The N.J. Department of Health (DOH) has issued new policy recommendations for infection control at long-term care (LTC) facilities.
They come in response to an adenovirus outbreak last year at a pediatric facility in the state that led to 11 deaths and dozens of cases.
The DOH is recommending all LTC facilities with pediatric and adult ventilator beds have an infection control plan that "allows for separation of sick and well residents — and the staff caring for them — as quickly as possible and monitoring of staff and residents for illness," according to a DOH news release.
One of the most significant recommendations is for these LTC facilities to have an outbreak plan that addresses the following:
policies for patient and staff notification;
availability of lab testing;
protocols to assess visitor wellness;
protocols to identify/exclude sick staff from the facility; and
separation of sick and well patients at the outset of an outbreak to prevent spread of illness.
The report also includes recommendations for amending state regulations to require such facilities to:
implement protocols to ensure parents and guardians of residents are immediately notified when outbreaks occur;
employ a full-time infection control professional;
have an agreement in place to consult with an infectious disease specialist during an outbreak; and
provide all staff with training in the facility's infection control policies — including protocols for identifying employees and visitors showing signs of illness — every six months.
Other recommendations touch on areas including response to outbreak by local health departments, development of a respiratory virus outbreak preparedness checklist and funding for staff dedicated to respiratory virus surveillance.
Since some of the recommendations call for policy changes, the N.J. Senate and Assembly Health committees have introduced legislation to address them.