COVID-19: New Jersey Takes Action to Raise Health Care Personnel Levels
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the State of New Jersey continues to grow, Governor Murphy has issued various executive orders aimed at combatting COVID-19. On April 1, 2020 the Governor signed Executive Order 112 (“EO 112”), which focuses on the health care industry with a goal of increasing the number of health care workers responding to COVID-19 in New Jersey. EO 112, among others things:
Allows the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to reactivate the license of any health care professional previously licensed in New Jersey who retired from practice within the last 5 years under certain circumstances;
Allows the DCA to issue a license to practice to a health care provider who is licensed in another country, provided certain conditions are met; and
Reduces certain scope of practice requirements on Advance Practice Nurses and Physician Assistants, which includes some joint protocol and physician supervision requirements that may have previously hampered staffing and treatment efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.
Additionally and significantly, in light of the limitations on certain liabilities found under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, EO 112 states that individuals granted a temporary license and those with existing licenses, certificates, or registration to practice as a health care professional shall be immune from civil liability for damages that may occur in the course of providing health care services in response to COVID-19 as a result of acts or omissions undertaken in good faith “whether or not in the scope of the licensee’s practice[.]” Additionally, any health care facility within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 26:13-2, and any site designated by the Department of Health for temporary use in responding to COVID-19, including hotels and student dormitories, shall also be immune from civil liability as a result of the act or omission of any of its employees, agents, volunteers, etc. undertaken in good faith.
EO 112, as well as the other executive orders issued by Governor Murphy and his administration highlights the attempts to address the shortage of health care providers in New Jersey. These actions should enable organizations such as hospitals and other COVID-19 treatment magnets to more robustly staff their organizations, as well as have flexibility in terms of the staffing and supervision of certain providers during the public health emergency.