The mother sues the plant after 10 children died in the adenovirus epidemic

The son of Paula Costigan, William DelGrosso, was one of dozens of medically fragile children who had been infected by the virus since the end of September at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey.

As of Friday, 31 residents have been affected by the epidemic, including 10 deaths, according to the public health department. DelGrosso remains hospitalized.

According to the lawsuit, DelGrosso had a fever on October 11 and October 18 was transferred to the intensive care unit at the Hackensack University Medical Center with "severe respiratory complications". Now it's still there, according to the family lawyer, Paul da Costa.

"As a mother, it's difficult enough not to have your baby under your roof and you have to trust and rely on a structure to take care of your child," Costa said, adding that Costigan "feels like the structure was trying to to hide the fact that this serious virus was spreading to oil stain. "

The Wanaque Center refused to request a comment on the case.

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Costigan does not know where his son will go when he is stable enough to get fired from intensive care, Costa said.

DelGrosso, who has a seizure disorder, required a respirator to breathe since he was about 10 years old, when he went into cardiac arrest after a serious attack, Costa said.

There are four long-term care facilities in New Jersey that cater to children, according to a state health department database. This includes the Wanaque Center and the Voorhees Pediatric Facility, where seven children have been infected with a milder adenovirus strain, according to the state's health department. There were no deaths among Voorhees patients.

Costigan does not want his son to return to the Wanaque facility, but was told that the other centers in the state that accept Medicaid and are equipped to take care of a fan-dependent child as his son may have up to one-year d & d Wait, according to da Costa.

The case claims that the structure failed to provide the necessary treatment to DelGrosso when it came to preventing the spread of this infection.

"At the time of the first case of adenovirus", says the cause, the structure "did not have adequate infection prevention and control programs, protocols or procedures in place to remedy the infection and prevent its spread in all its pediatric residents ".

The lawsuit also claims that the facility did not send patients to acute care hospitals in a timely manner or informed the parents first when they first contacted the state's health department on October 9th.

Costigan Da Costa said that "she was never informed that her son had high fevers several days before they finally told her that she had to be immediately transferred to a hospital for acute" on October 18, he said. And she was not informed of the adenovirus epidemic until a letter arrived by mail four days later, she added.

In the statements last month, the Wanaque facility said it is collaborating with health experts to investigate the epidemic and that "promptly informed all appropriate government agencies when the virus was initially identified". The structure did not respond to previous requests for further comments.

Da Costa says that the cause is not just about Costigan's son; it's about "boys like William who have the inability to speak for themselves and take care of themselves".

The case refers to health inspections dating back several years, including an unannounced October 21st inspection that found inadequate hand hygiene practices among staff. This inspection was conducted after health officials were alerted by the facility, but before the health department publicly announced any deaths.
The structure has received and corrected other deficiencies in the past, including inadequately stored syringes, used to measure liquid drugs, and bed tablets and trays for inadequately cleaned and disinfected medicines.

Speaking to journalists last month, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal described these as "low-level, self-limited deficiencies" that were resolved when health inspectors checked.

In a review of the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, the Wanaque Center obtained a higher than average overall quality assessment, but a lower than average health control rating. The rating is based on two years of inspections before November 2017. The deficiencies of the Wanaque structure have been consistently lower than the US average.

"It is rare that in every inspection a structure would have come out without quotations," Elnahal said. "If it's a series of low-level quotes, we ask for a correction plan, making sure that the structure follows, and this is what this structure has done here.

"If the results are severe enough to take further action, we will do it," he added.

Infections and deaths come in the middle of questions – from former employees of Wanaque Center, the mother of one of the children who died, and Elnahal himself – about whether the current standards of the facilities are high enough and whether more to prevent this from happening.
Elnahal said in a statement that the results of the most recent health inspection at the Wanaque facility "raise doubts about whether these long-term general support standards are optimal for this vulnerable population of medically fragile children."

"We also need to think about whether we can do more as health leaders to protect immunocompromised children, such as those served at the Wanaque Center," he said.

"Every year in the state, there are hundreds of outbreaks in health facilities".

"We are taking aggressive measures".

Adenoviruses often spread by touching a contaminated person or surface, or by air coughing or sneezing. It is known that they persist on dirty surfaces and medical instruments for long periods of time and which may not be eliminated by common disinfectants, but rarely cause serious illnesses in healthy people.

However, people with a weakened immune system have a higher risk of serious illness and may remain contagious long after their recovery, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after being exposed to the virus.

At the Wanaque facility, patients with confirmed cases became ill between September 26th and November 8th, according to the health department. The number has increased from 18 cases, including six deaths, announced last month by the health department.
The epidemic in the Wanaque structure was caused by type 7 adenovirus. This type is "more commonly associated with acute respiratory disease," according to the CDC. Other types of adenovirus infections can cause flu-like symptoms, pinkeye and diarrhea.
Health officials say they are stepping up efforts to strengthen infection control in such facilities in the state. The health department announced plans last week to deploy a group of infection control experts this month to visit the university hospital and four pediatric long-term care facilities, including the Wanaque and Voorhees facilities, where experts will train and evaluate how these structures prevent and control infections.
"Outbreaks of implantation are not always preventable, but in response to what we have seen at Wanaque, we are taking aggressive measures to minimize the possibility of occurring among New Jersey's most vulnerable patients," Elnahal said in a statement. last week.

The facility was "charged with not admitting new patients until the epidemic ends and will fully comply", according to the public health department. Public health officials have said that the epidemic can only be declared when four weeks pass without an additional case.

"It may be difficult not to know how the virus arrived at the structure, what its source was or what its specific mechanism of diffusion from person to person", said Elnahal.

Olivia Kiely and Kristina Sgueglia from CNN contributed to this report.


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