SENATE, No. 2919

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 2, 2011

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  ANDREW R. CIESLA

District 10 (Monmouth and Ocean)

Senator  DIANE B. ALLEN

District 7 (Burlington and Camden)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires reporting of suspected abuse of institutionalized elderly to police and that facility employees receive notice of reporting requirement annually; designated as “Peggy’s Law.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly and amending P.L.1983, c.43.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.1983, c.43 (C.52:27G-7.1) is amended to read as follows:

     2.    a.  Any caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse, or other professional, who, as a result of information obtained in the course of his employment, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an institutionalized elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited, shall report such information [in a timely manner] immediately to the local law enforcement agency and to the ombudsman or to the person designated by him to receive such report.

     b.  Such report shall contain the name and address of the elderly person, information regarding the nature of the suspected abuse or exploitation and any other information which might be helpful in an investigation of the case and the protection of such elderly person.

     c. Any other person having reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited [may] shall report such information immediately to the local law enforcement agency and the ombudsman or to the person designated by him to receive such report.

     d.  The name of any person who reports suspected abuse or exploitation pursuant to this act shall not be disclosed, unless the person who reported the abuse or exploitation specifically requests such disclosure or a judicial proceeding results from such report.

     e. Any person who reports suspected abuse or exploitation pursuant to this act or who testifies in any administrative or judicial proceeding arising from such report or testimony shall have immunity from any civil or criminal liability on account of such report or testimony, unless such person has acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose.

     f.  Any person required to report suspected abuse or exploitation pursuant to this act who fails to make such report shall be fined not more than $5,000.00.  Such penalty shall be collected and enforced by summary proceedings pursuant to ["the penalty enforcement law" (N.J.S. 2A:58-1 et seq.)] the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  Each violation of this act shall constitute a separate offense.

     g.  No provision of this act shall be deemed to require the disclosure of, or penalize the failure to disclose, any information which would be privileged pursuant to the provisions of sections 18 through 23 inclusive of P.L.1960, c.52 (C.2A:84A-18 through 2A:84A-23).

     h.  When a person has been penalized under this section, a letter making note of the penalty shall immediately be sent by the court to the licensing authority or the professional board, if any, having jurisdiction over the person who has been penalized.

     i.  The office may bring suit in a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce any of the powers enumerated in this section.

(cf: P.L.1987, c.104, s.2)

 

     2.  Section 11 of P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-11) is amended to read as follows:

     11. a.  Any correspondence or written communication from any patient, resident or client of a facility to the office shall, if delivered to or received by the  facility, be promptly forwarded, unopened, by the facility to the office.  Any correspondence or written communication from the office to any patient, resident or client of a facility shall, if delivered to or received by the facility, be promptly forwarded, unopened, by the facility to such patient, resident, or client.

     b.  The office shall prepare and distribute to each facility written notices, in English and Spanish, which set forth the address and telephone number of the office, a brief explanation of the function of the office, the procedure to follow in filing a complaint and other pertinent information.  The notice shall also include the phone number of the local law enforcement agency.

     The administrator of each facility shall ensure that such written notice is given to every patient, resident or client or his guardian upon admission to the facility and to every person already in residence or his guardian.  The administrator shall also post such written notice in a conspicuous, public place in the facility in the number and manner set forth in the guidelines adopted by the office.

     c.  The office shall inform patients, residents or clients, their guardians or their families, of their rights and entitlements under State and Federal laws and rules and regulations by means of the distribution of educational materials and group meetings.

     d.  The office shall facilitate the filing of complaints with the office concerning matters within the authority of the office.  The measures taken in connection therewith shall include, but need not be limited to, maintenance of a toll-free telephone, either by the office or in conjunction with the [Division on Aging] Department of Health and Senior Services, at least during regular working hours of the office for the filing of  complaints.

     e.  The administrator of each facility shall annually provide all caretakers, social workers, physicians, registered or licensed practical nurses, or other professionals employed at the facility with a notice explaining the requirements of section 2 of P.L.1983, c.43 (C.52:27G-7.1) concerning the reporting of suspected abuse or exploitation of an institutionalized elderly person, and require, as a condition of employment at the facility, that the professional acknowledge in writing receipt of the notice.  The signed acknowledgement shall be retained in the employee’s personnel file.

(P.L.1977, c.239, s.11)

 

     3. This act shall take effect on the 60th day following enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, designated as “Peggy’s Law,”. amends P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-1 et seq.), which establishes the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly, to require that any caretaker, social worker, physician, registered or licensed practical nurse, or other professional, who, as a result of information obtained in the course of his employment, has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an institutionalized elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited, shall immediately report this information to the local law enforcement agency, as well as to the ombudsman.  The law currently provides that these professionals shall report this information, in a timely manner, to the ombudsman.

     Similarly, the bill mandates that any other person who has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that an elderly person is being or has been abused or exploited shall immediately report such information to the local law enforcement agency and the ombudsman.  The law currently provides that other persons may report this information to the ombudsman.

     Also, in order to ensure that residents or patients and their family members, as well as employees of facilities for the institutionalized elderly are aware of the reporting requirements of the law, the bill requires that:

·    Notices provided by the ombudsman that include information about the procedure to follow in filing a complaint and other pertinent information, which are posted in the facility and given to patients and their family members, shall be prepared in both English and Spanish and shall include the phone number of the local law enforcement agency; and

·    The administrator of a facility shall annually provide all caretakers, social workers, physicians, registered or licensed practical nurses, or other professionals employed at the facility with a notice explaining the requirements in the bill concerning the reporting of suspected abuse or exploitation of an institutionalized elderly person, and require, as a condition of employment at the facility, that the professional acknowledge in writing receipt of the notice, which acknowledgement will be retained in the employee’s personnel file.

       The bill has a delayed effective date of 60 days following enactment in order to provide the ombudsman with sufficient time to prepare and distribute the required notices.