COVID-19 Guidance, PPE’s, Liaison Teams, Disinfection Protocols Just Part of OCHD Assistance Plan
(Toms River) – It’s no secret that the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted some residents in Ocean County more than others and one of the most vulnerable are our friends and relatives living in long-term care facilities (LTCF) and nursing homes. There are a total of 54 long-term facilities in Ocean County; 35 are licensed as nursing homes and the other 19 as assisted living facilities.
“We knew from day one that the senior residents in the assisted living and long-term care facilities were going to be high risk,” explained Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. Little added, “There are a unique set of challenges and barriers that these facilities have been trying to contain and limit the spread of the disease and the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is assisting them whichever way they can.”
The Ocean County Health Department has been proactive in numerous ways including conferencing back on March 11, 2020 and again more recently with the Health Care Association of New Jersey which is the State Association for LTC/AL facilities in New Jersey to strategize ways to protect our high risk residents.
Another measure implemented early on was the formation of a team that has been assigned to work directly with each LTCF in Ocean County. While that team started with only a few members, the need and impact on this most fragile population has grown and so has the OCHD team. Each team is now comprised of five (5) staff which includes four (4) nurses and an epidemiologist to work directly with all of Ocean County’s LTCF’s. These teams liaise with each facility on a daily basis, making sure they are conducting the required reporting requirements to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) who licenses and regulates these facilities. In addition, our daily communication confirms from the facilities administration that they have the necessary staffing and supplies needed to adequately care for the residents within the facility as well as protecting the healthcare workers.
It is critical that the facilities have, and are following, all of the recommended CDC guidance. Ensuring patients are properly handled, protecting the healthcare worker in the facility, trying to prevent the spread to others and discussing how facilities are handling joint meal service are just a few of the scenarios that are being addressed.
“Our liaison teams reinforce the CDC guidelines for handling patients in these settings,” said Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator/Health Officer. “It’s not an easy job trying to keep patients healthy and safe especially when you’re dealing with high-risk individuals that are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus in close quarters. We are also working to provide channels to state and local authorities and coordinating efforts with the Ocean County Senior Services Department. One of their biggest needs that the OCHD has been able to assist with, and directly provide, is personal protection equipment (PPE).”
To date, there have been more than 740 patients at long-term care facilities with at least 38 of them caring for one or more people sick with the coronavirus. Sadly, there have been 61 people that have died as a result of the COVID-19 virus at long-term care facilities.
“More than 173,000 residents in Ocean County are older adults,” expressed Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services and County Operations. “A large portion of seniors are living at these facilities so it’s been important that staff and patients have a resource such as the Ocean County Health Department for crucial guidance and assistance during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The Ocean County Health Department is providing links to local and state information and data regarding long term care facilities in Ocean County on our website at www.ochd.org. Each afternoon the OCHD posts daily COVID-19 case totals including municipal breakdown of cases which can also be found at www.ochd.org.
If a resident has a high level concern related to licensure or regulatory matters not being followed by the LTCF, the individual should contact the;
New Jersey Department of Health Long Term Care Facility Complaint Hotline at (800) 792-9770.
The OCHD is also providing a general COVID-19 Information Call Hot Line for residents and clinicians to answer questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.
The NJDOH hotline is available for questions around the clock at 1-800-222-1222 or by dialing 2-1-1.
Additional information can be found at:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at
or New Jersey Department of Health website at: