AHCA’s Dr. David Gifford Testifies at New Jersey Senate Committee Hearing on Infection Prevention and Control

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Dr. David Gifford, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Quality and Regulatory Affairs at the American Health Care Association (AHCA), testified before the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on skilled nursing facility-based infectious disease outbreaks, control, and prevention. The hearing comes after an outbreak of Adenovirus at a long term care facility in Wanaque, NJ caused 11 deaths and infected a number of children.

Dr. Gifford expressed his condolences, urging that we need to take steps to prevent viral outbreaks from happening again. He offered solutions aimed at how to lower the risk of viral infections entering a nursing home and decrease the risk of viruses spreading between residents. One of the several steps he recommended was that New Jersey move up the implementation date for the new Infection Preventionist specialized training requirement – as outlined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Reform of Requirements of Participation for Long Term Care Facilities – from November to April 2019. Additionally, he demonstrated the Association’s continued commitment to quality care by offering to provide AHCA’s Infection Preventionist Specialized Training at no cost for nursing facilities caring for high-risk populations in the state, such as those on ventilators or children. 

“While this tragic outbreak was due to Adenovirus, we must take common sense steps to prevent other community viruses that typically cause flu-like symptoms from entering nursing homes,” said Dr. Gifford. “They can have severe consequences in residents of all ages who have many underlying health problems. People should stay home when sick, cover their mouth when coughing, and frequently use alcohol-based hand gels. Nursing homes should also have alcohol-based hand gels readily available for visitors and staff to use to prevent the spread of viruses to the residents.”

Dr. Gifford has extensive experience in and is a pioneer for quality improvement in long term care. At AHCA, he helped establish the Quality Department, which assists providers in their quality improvement efforts and works with administration officials on regulations and policies impacting the profession. He previously served as Director of the Rhode Island State Department of Health and Chief Medical Officer for Quality Partners of Rhode Island. Dr. Gifford has also served on numerous federal expert panels, including the Center for Disease Control’s expert panel on Infection Control. 

“The Health Care Association of New Jersey (HCANJ), like all within our sector, are saddened by the tragic loss of life due to the adenovirus outbreak which struck the Wanaque center. Our thoughts have been, and will continue to be, with all those affected,” said Jon Dolan, President and CEO of HCANJ. “We appreciate the opportunity to provide information and possible solutions to the Committee in order to better understand what happened, prevent further outbreaks, and collaborate with all stakeholders to promote best practices and quality care in the future.” ABOUT AHCA/NCAL
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) represents more than 13,700 non-profit and proprietary skilled nursing centers, assisted living communities, sub-acute centers and homes for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. By delivering solutions for quality care, AHCA/NCAL aims to improve the lives of the millions of frail, elderly and individuals with disabilities who receive long term or post-acute care in our member facilities each day. For more information, please visit www.ahca.org or www.ncal.org.