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State Sen. Joe Pennacchio. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Pennacchio raises alarms over health commissioner letter

By Nikita Biryukov, May 08 2020 11:46 am

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio raised alarms over a letter instructing the state’s long-term care facilities to not test stable patients for COVID-19 before admitting or readmitting them.

“New Jersey has continually cited testing as a way to identify and respond to COVID-19.  Therefore, it doesn’t make sense that we would specifically not want to test patients who would enter isolated nursing homes containing our most vulnerable population,” Pennacchio said.

In a March 31 letter, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli told hospital and nursing home administrators that patients could not be denied admission to post-acute care facilities because of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

Patients being tested for the virus could not be discharged until the results came back, she said.

“Applying science and reason, one would surmise that releasing a highly contagious pathogen in an isolated and vulnerable location, like a nursing home, could have devastating effects, and it did,” Pennacchio said.

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