Senator Anthony M. Bucco of New Jersey has introduced a series of bills to assist frontline healthcare workers and first responders who are suffering from the stresses of responding to COVID-19.
“While the number of COVID cases has fallen, the pain and trauma experienced by those fighting on the front lines show no signs of stopping,” said Bucco. “We need to protect our first responders with various tools and resources to help them overcome overwhelming situations and stay grounded. They heeded the call during a great time of need, now it’s our mission to save the lives of the healthcare heroes tasked to save ours.”
The first bill would establish a First Responder Pandemic PTSD Task Force. Another would create a COVID-19 Frontline Mental Health Claims Program within the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
“A silent struggle with PTSD can turn deadly without the proper support,” added Bucco. “Heroes need help, too. Creating a task force, along with ensuring that our residents who worked in frontline positions during the pandemic have access to mental health services, regardless of coverage, is the right thing to do.”
The legislation is part of a larger bill package created to support frontline workers, which includes:
- S-2447 Establishes toll-free helpline for first responders, health care workers, and other frontline workers experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
- S-2490 Requires health care facilities to screen health care workers, first responders, and other frontline workers for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- S-2491 Requires DHS to provide psychiatric service dogs to first responders, health care workers, and other frontline workers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- S-2492 Establishes public awareness campaign concerning programs and services for first responders, healthcare workers, and other frontline workers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- SR-66 Urges the federal government to provide aid to the state to combat post-traumatic stress disorder due to coronavirus disease in 2019.
- S-2550 Establishes temporary Pandemic PTSD Force.
- S-2551 Establishes COVID-19 Frontline Mental Health Claims Program in the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in DHS and makes an appropriation.