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Assembly Panel Moves Bill to Halt Patient Transition in Developmental Center Closings

 An Assembly Panel approved on Thursday legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Tim Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Carmelo Garcia (D-Hudson) to temporarily stop the transition of residents until an action plan for the impending closure of developmental centers is presented by the state Department of Human Services.

"We need to protect our state's most vulnerable and make sure patient care is not disrupted or mishandled,” said Vainieri Huttle. “A comprehensive and transparent evaluation of the closure process will help to ensure that there are no more tragedies like the ones that have been reported. A moratorium is needed to make sure that every resident is safely and appropriately cared for.” 

 “There are patient proximity concerns and care issues,” said Eustace. “To ensure we are headed in the right direction we must step back to evaluate the progress made so far.  An evaluation cannot be done efficiently if patients are still in the process of transitioning.”  

“More questions have been raised during this transition than answers given,’ said Garcia. “Ensuring quality patient care and uninterrupted service should be our primary concern. We cannot risk losing a patient in the shuffle.”

This bill (A-1110) directs the Department of Human Services to impose a moratorium on the transition of an individual with a developmental disability residing in a developmental center to a new location at the developmental center, or the transfer of an individual with a developmental disability to a new residential placement, because of impending closure of the developmental center, due to the impending closure of the developmental center, until the department issues a report after having conducted the following:

(1) a comprehensive evaluation, as of the effective date of this act, of the progress of:(a) the transfer of individuals with developmental disabilities to new residential placements and whether those individuals are being provided safe and appropriate care and services in the new placements and medically and behaviorally appropriate living conditions; and (b) the closure of the developmental center and whether the individuals with developmental disabilities residing in the developmental center during the implementation of the closure are being provided safe and appropriate care and services and medically and behaviorally appropriate living conditions; and

(2) a comprehensive investigation, as of the effective date of this act, of any deaths or reports of serious bodily injury of individuals with developmental disabilities residing in a developmental center or transferred to a new residential placement during the implementation of an impending closure. No later than six months after the effective date of this act, the Commissioner of Human Services shall submit a report to the Legislature on the evaluation and investigation conducted pursuant to this section.

The bill also directs The Department of Human Services to impose a moratorium on the transfer of an individual with a developmental disability, whom the Division of Developmental Disabilities had placed in an out-of-State facility, to a new residential placement in this State under the Returning Home New Jersey initiative or any similar initiative or program transferring individuals with developmental disabilities from out-of-State placements to new residential placements in this State, until the department prepares a comprehensive written plan as provided for in this section and posts the plan on the website of the department. 

The Division of Developmental Disabilities also would be prohibited under the moratorium to transfer an individual with a developmental disability to a new residential placement in this State under the Returning Home New Jersey initiative or any similar initiative or program transferring individuals with developmental disabilities from out-of-State placements to new residential placements in this State if the transfer is opposed by the individual or the individual's guardian; the individual has resided in an out-of-State placement for 10 or more years; or a medical evaluation of the individual indicates that the transfer to a new residential placement in this State would be harmful to the health or safety of the individual.

The measure was released by the Assembly Human Services Committee.

 

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