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For Release:
July 31, 2009

Heather Howard

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160

DHSS Awarded Federal Stimulus Grant to Reduce Infections in Ambulatory Surgery Centers


New Jersey is one of 12 states awarded a federal grant as part of a nationwide effort to reduce infections acquired in ambulatory surgery centers, Health and Senior services Commissioner Heather Howard announced today.


          The Department of Health and Senior Services has been awarded $125,000 in funding from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to conduct on-site surveys of ambulatory surgery centers to ensure that they are following Medicare’s health and safety standards, especially in regard to infection control. The funding was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Act.


New Jersey received the largest grant of any state.


DHSS will use a new survey process the federal government developed so inspectors can examine a facility’s infection control practices in greater depth.  The process was developed in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


 “New Jersey has been an innovator in improving the quality of health care for residents and I am pleased that the federal government has recognized our expertise,’’ said Governor Jon S. Corzine.


 “Reducing the number of infections acquired while receiving health care is critical to providing quality care for New Jersey’s health care consumers,” Commissioner Howard said. 


By October 1, all states will be required to adopt the new inspection tool and increase the frequency of inspections in all ambulatory care facilities certified to treat Medicare patients.  States perform these inspections on behalf of the Medicare program under grants and special agreements with the federal government.


Nationwide and in New Jersey, the number of ambulatory surgery centers has grown dramatically as more procedures are performed in free-standing facilities as well as hospitals.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted an increase in infections acquired by patients due to unsafe medical practices in these settings.


A number of procedures now are commonly performed in ambulatory surgery centers as well as hospitals – endoscopies and colonoscopies, orthopedic procedures, plastic surgeries, and surgeries of the eye, foot, ear, nose and throat.


New Jersey’s approximately 100 licensed ambulatory surgery centers are inspected every two years under extensive state licensing rules that include requirements for proper infection control. Other ambulatory surgical centers are operated by physicians who are regulated by the state Board of Medical Examiners.


For ambulatory surgical centers that also participate in Medicare, DHSS conducts additional federal inspections which currently are only required every seven years.  Beginning October 1, states will receive a total of $9 million to conduct federal inspections every three years and use the more intensive survey process during those inspections.


New Jersey has conducted 14 federal inspections so far this year and will perform 17 more before September 30.  DHSS expects to conduct about 30 a year starting October 1.


New Jersey and the following states are receiving a combined total of $572,250 in grant funds:  Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming.


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