Home Health Mother complains of 10 children who died of an adenovirus outbreak

Mother complains of 10 children who died of an adenovirus outbreak

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.

By Friday, 31 residents were affected by the outbreak, including 10 deaths. DelGrosso stays in the hospital.

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.

In New Jersey, there are four long-term care facilities that are suitable for children, according to a state health database. These include the Wanaque Center and the Voorhees Pediatric Facility, where seven children were infected with a milder strain of adenovirus, according to the state health department. There were no deaths among the Voorhees patients.

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.

In Adenovirus outbreak in New Jersey, 30 were ill, including 10 children who died

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."

The lawsuit relates to several years ago health inspections, including an unannounced inspection on 21 October, which found inadequate hand hygiene practices among staff. This inspection was conducted after health authorities were alerted by the facility, but before the health department had publicly announced the deaths.
The facility has maintained and corrected other deficiencies in the past, including improperly placed syringes used to measure fluid medication, and bed tables and medicine trays that have not been properly cleaned and disinfected.

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.

If it's not the flu, you might get sick because of this virus
In a review by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the overall quality of the Wanaque Center was rated above average but below average health control. The rating is based on two years of inspections before November 2017. The deficiencies in Wanaque were consistently lower than the US average.

"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.

The infections and deaths arise from questions – from former employees of the Wanaque Center, the mother of one of the deceased children and Elnahal herself – about whether the current investment standard is high enough and whether more could be done to prevent it.
Elnahal said in a statement earlier that the findings of recent health checks in Wanaque "raise the question as to whether these general long-term care standards are optimal for this vulnerable population of medically vulnerable children."

"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"

Adenoviruses are commonly spread by contact with a contaminated person or surface or through the air due to coughing or sneezing. It is known that they remain on unclean surfaces and medical instruments for extended periods of time. They may not be eliminated by common disinfectants, but they rarely cause serious illness in healthy people.

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.

At the Wanaque facility, patients with confirmed cases fell ill between September 26 and November 8, according to the health department. The number has risen from 18 cases, including six deaths announced by the Ministry of Health last month.
The outbreak at the Wanaque facility was caused by adenovirus type 7. This type is "most commonly associated with acute respiratory disease," according to CDC. Other types of adenovirus infections can cause flu-like symptoms, pink eyes and diarrhea.
Health officials say they are stepping up efforts to increase infection control in such facilities in the state. The Health Department announced last week plans to send a team of infection control experts to visit the University Hospital and four pediatric long-term care facilities, including the Wanaque and Voorhees facilities, where staff members receive training and assess how these facilities prevent and control infections.
"Outbreaks in the facility are not always preventable, but in response to what we saw in Wanaque, we take aggressive measures to minimize the likelihood of their occurring in New Jersey's most vulnerable patients," said Elnahal last week in a statement.

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.



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