Following a deadly outbreak that killed 11 children, New Jersey will now require certain long-term care facilities to develop and submit an outbreak response plan to the state’s Department of Health. 

“Breaches in infection control practices are a major contributing factor in the spread of disease in healthcare facilities,” said Judith Persichilli, the state’s acting Health Commissioner. “Outbreak response plans help facilities remain aware of the need to contact and work with public health to implement practices to minimize further spread of disease.”

The law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Thursday, is aimed at LTC facilities that provide care to ventilator-dependent residents. 

Under the new law, outbreak response plans should, at a minimum: include a protocol for isolating and co-hosting infected and at-risk patients in the event of an outbreak of a life-threatening, contagious disease until the threat is gone; include a plan for notifying residents, families, visitors and staff on an outbreak at the facility; and have a policy for reporting any outbreak to public health officials. 

Providers also will have to meet staffing, training and facility demands in the event an infectious outbreak happened at the facility, which could mean employing an additional person who’s certified to handle this type of situation. 

The new law is in direct response to an incident where 36 children and a staff member became infected after a deadly adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation last fall.