Paula Costigan's son, William DelGrosso, was one of dozens of medically vulnerable children who became infected with the virus at the end of September at the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Haskell, New Jersey.
According to the lawsuit, DelGrosso had a fever on October 11 and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of the Hackensack University Medical Center on October 18 for "severe respiratory disease." According to the family lawyer Paul da Costa, he is still there.
"As a mother, having your child under your own roof and having to rely on a facility to take care of your child is hard enough," Costa said, adding that Costigan felt he wanted the facility hide the fact that this serious virus spread like wildfire. "
The Wanaque Center declined a request for comment on the lawsuit.
"Children like William"
Costigan does not know where her son will go if he's stable enough to be fired from ICU, Costa said.
DelGrosso, who suffers from a seizure disorder, needed a respirator since he was about ten years old when he contracted a cardiac arrest following a severe attack, Costa said.
Costigan does not want her son to return to the Wanaque facility, but has learned that the other centers in the state that accept Medicaid and are able to look after a ventilator-dependent child like their son, possibly up to one-year waiting list to da Costa.
The lawsuit alleges that the institution failed to provide the necessary care for DelGrosso to prevent the spread of such an infection.
"At the time of the first adenovirus case," the complaint said, the facility did not have appropriate infection prevention and control programs, protocols, or procedures to correct the infection and prevent its spread to the pediatric clinic. "
The lawsuit also alleges that the facility failed to send patients to acute care clinics in time or informed parents earlier when it first contacted the state health department on the outbreak on 9 October.
Costigan Because Costa said that "she was never informed that her son had a high fever for several days before finally saying that he had to be taken to an acute hospital immediately," he said. And she was not informed of the outbreak of the adenovirus until four days later a letter of formal notice arrived in the mail, he added.
In statements from last month, the Wanaque plant said it was working with health experts to investigate the outbreak, and that it "immediately notified all government authorities when the virus was first identified." The facility did not respond to earlier requests for further comments.
As Costa says, the lawsuit is not just about Costigan's son. it's about "children like William who are unable to speak for themselves and take care of themselves."
In an interview with reporters last month, Dr. Shereef Elahal, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, described these as "minor, self-limited shortcomings" that were remedied when health inspectors re-examined.
"It's rare for an inspection to come out without quotes," Elnahal said. "If it's a series of quotes that are all at a low level, we ask for a corrective plan, we'll see to it that the device gets through – and that's exactly what this facility has done here.
"If the results are severe enough to take further action, we will do that," he added.
"We also need to think about whether as health leaders we can do more to protect immunocompromised children, such as those served at the Wanaque Center," he said.
"Every year there are hundreds of outbreaks in healthcare facilities."
"We are taking aggressive steps"
However, immunocompromised people are at a higher risk for serious illness and may remain contagious for a long time following recovery, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms can occur two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
The facility was instructed "not to admit new patients until the outbreak is over and they fully comply," the Health Ministry said. State health officials said the outbreak could only be declared after four weeks without further action.
"It can be hard to impossible to know how the virus got into the facility, where it came from, or what is its specific person-to-person spreading mechanism," Elnahal said.
Olivia Kiely and Kristina Sgueglia of CNN contributed to this report.