On April 13, 2020 NJDOH issued a new ORDER entitled:
Although there are a few additions, much of what is required here is what everyone is already doing. All of you are doing the best that you can with what you have available under unprecedented circumstances.
This recent order now states that each facility must be able to cohort residents into three groups based on their COVID-19 status. If a facility cannot meet the requirements described below, then the facility cannot accept any admissions.
Please note that this order has changed from previous directives which stated that facilities could not accept admissions/re-admissions if there were COVID-19 positive residents in the building.
All healthcare facilities can admit/re-admit patients regardless of the facility’s COVID status of in- house residents and regardless of the COVID status of the individual being admitted from the hospital, provided the following criteria are in place:
Implement/develop a cohorting plan which specifies the following:
- How these residents will be separated in your building.
- For assisted living residences this can be satisfied by isolating the resident in their room. Set up an isolation supply cart outside the resident’s room and keep it supplied with appropriate PPE, masks, gloves, gowns, face shields etc. The same PPE cannot be worn in common hallways en route to another COVID resident.
- Ensure there is sufficient dedicated staff to provide care for each group of residents.
- Maintain social distancing at the onset of and through the outbreak.
- Follow current CDC infection control guidance, including appropriate use of PPE.
Identify the 3 groups of residents:
- Those who are confirmed positive for COVID-19/or symptomatic
- Those who have been exposed to the virus/ asymptomatic
- Those who are not ill and have NOT been exposed to COVID-19
Please note that although the order states that persons under investigation are permitted only if the individual can be placed in isolation, per the guidance distributed on March 31, 2020, persons under investigation who have been tested in the hospital shall not be discharged until the test results are received.
Many facilities are at different levels of COVID stressors such as: number of COVID positive residents, inadequate staffing, and PPE shortfalls. Some facilities are prepared to accept admissions, some are not. Just as with previous DOH directives, use this as guidance in determining what you can and cannot do in your facility.
Director, Quality, Clinical & Regulatory Services