Nursing home leadership faulted for adenovirus outbreak that killed 11 children, federal report says

A nursing home administrator disputed the findings of the federal report and said the center has appealed the "allegations."
Image: Ext view of Wanague Center Sign
There were more than 30 cases of adenovirus last year at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in New Jersey. Julio Cortez / AP file

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

The adenovirus outbreak that killed 11 children at a New Jersey nursing home center is reportedly being partially blamed on facility leaders not knowing the scope of the spread of the virus and not reacting quickly enough after the patients were sickened.

A federal report said the pediatric medical director of the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation told inspectors that he wasn't initially aware of how many children were infected with adenovirus or how someone in his position was supposed to react to the outbreak, according to Northjersey.com.

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“I knew we had a problem after the fourth death,” the medical director, who is not named, told investigators, according to the report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Children began falling ill on Sept. 26, but the spate of illnesses weren't reported to authorities until Oct. 9. By mid-November, at least 33 children and a staff member had been sickened, and 11 of the ill children had died.

Wanaque administrator Rowena Bautista disputed the findings of the federal report and said the center has appealed the "allegations."

"We are infuriated that, after a cursory review, federal surveyors put together a report riddled with factual inaccuracies, disregard of medical judgment, and blatant misstatements about how viruses spread," Bautista said.

“While the outbreak was a tragic event that has left us all heartbroken, it was not caused by any delayed treatment or any other unfounded allegation contained in the CMS Report," she said.

The outbreak was contained by Dec. 11, Bautista said. Wanaque is still banned by the state from admitting new patients to its pediatric ventilator unit, according to The Associated Press.