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TRENTON — Legislators were focused on improving oversight and care in nursing homes and of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients Thursday as a string of health care bills got approval in committees this past week.

One of those bills would establish new nursing aide-to-patient ratios in efforts to improve the quality of care for older Americans living in New Jersey nursing homes.

New guidelines outlined in the bill would require there be one certified nursing aide for every eight residents on the day shift, one aide for every 10 residents on the evening shift and one aide for every 16 residents on the night shift. Homes could employ more aides above those minimum thresholds.

“Countless studies have shown that higher staffing levels result in higher quality of care in nursing homes,” bill sponsor Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-Bergen, said in a statement. “This leads to lower mortality rates, improved functioning, less infections, lower hospitalization rates and an overall improvement in quality of life.”

State Department of Health regulations currently require nursing homes to meet a minimum number of hours of direct care to residents per day.

A second bill approved Thursday would improve oversight of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients by requiring hospitals to note on patients’ medical records whether they suffer from a dementia-related disorder and are at increased risk of confusion, agitation, behavioral problems and wandering, sponsors said.

The notation may be added to patients’ medical records when they are admitted to the hospital or emergency department, or when a patient is examined by a health care professional.(tncms-asset)52ba076a-5547-11e8-95e9-00163ec2aa77[0](/tncms-asset)

In efforts to boost awareness about the state’s existing Safe Haven Protection Act, which allows residents to anonymously surrender babies at approved locations without fear of criminal consequences, legislators are working on a bill to educate high school students about the law.

State Department of Children and Families officials said in April that the state would be creating new social media campaigns and outreach efforts to increase awareness about existing law.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, Somerset, would require high schools to educate students about the protection act during health and physical education classes. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee on Monday.

A new bill that would allow parents and caregivers of people with autism spectrum disorder to get handicap-accessible parking privileges got approval by the Assembly Human Services Committee on Thursday.

The proposed bill would give parents and caregivers identification cards and windshield placards for handicap-accessible parking, which is often closer to a business or residence’s entrance.

“Individuals with autism may experience varying degrees of physical and neurological issues that make routine activities all the more difficult when parking is not convenient,” bill sponsor James Kennedy, D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union, said in a statement.

A bill known as Linnette Lebron’s Law, which would expedite marriage applications when one partner is terminally ill, got approval from the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Omar Estevez spent time away from his fiancee, Linnette, of Camden, traveling to City Hall, the hospital and the courts seeking a waiver to the required three-day waiting period for marriage licenses while she was dying from stomach cancer. The bill would eliminate or reduce the administrative duties and waiting period before marriages or unions in these cases, sponsors said.

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Contact: 609-272-7022 NLeonard@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressNLeonard

Previously interned and reported for Boston.com, The Asbury Park Press, The Boston Globe

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