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Over 30 Children Infected, 11 Dead Amid Viral Outbreak at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation


The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has officially complied with a state deadline to separate children considered “medically fragile” from other residents and patients following an outbreak of an adenovirus at its facility in Haskell, New Jersey. According to state health department officials, at least 34 children have been infected with the virus, and 11 children have died.

Adenoviruses can cause mild to severe respiratory illnesses with cold- and flu-like symptoms. While mild infections can be treated effectively, adenoviruses can be significantly more dangerous, and even fatal, to those with weakened immune systems, especially young immunocompromised children.

Since the viral outbreak was first identified in September, officials from the Department of Health have reported that at least 34 children who have been exposed to the virus have suffered from related illnesses and symptoms. On October 8, the death of a 4-year-old child was the first reported fatality connected to the outbreak. At least 10 other child deaths have been linked to the virus at the Wanaque Center since that time.

Given the serious health concerns present at the Wanaque Center’s pediatrics unit, which specializes in treating newborns to young adults with health problems that constitute medical fragility, public health officials required Wanaque directors to separate children who are most susceptible to the virus from other patients by November 21st. The facility was able to meet the requirement four days ahead of schedule, according to the state health department.

In a statement released by New Jersey’s Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal, separating children with weak immune systems and other health issues that make them more vulnerable to infections is critical to preventing the spread of viruses and reducing serious and fatal health risks. However, despite the first child being diagnosed with a respiratory illness linked to the virus in September, the Wanaque Center had been unable to separate residents due to a lack of space. Wanaque Center directors also failed to notify the health department about a cluster of related illnesses in its pediatrics center until October 9, after two children had already died.

Now that it has complied with the requirement to separate patients, the Wanaque Center must also hire specialists trained in infection control and the treatment of infectious diseases. Officials will continue to investigate and oversee the process, and will reassess any readmissions to the facility beginning November 26.

Medical Malpractice & Victims’ Rights

While the separation of patients and hiring of specialists is critical to gaining control of the months-long viral outbreak, officials at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation have many questions to answer. This includes questions regarding how the viral outbreak occurred in the first place, and whether they failed to meet acceptable standards of care when responding to the problem and reporting it to health officials as required.

Under medical malpractice laws, facilities and professionals who care for patients have a legal obligation to provide reasonably skillful care. When they fail to do so, they place the lives of patients at risk, and can potentially be held liable for any illnesses, injuries, deaths, and other losses suffered by victims and their families.

If you or someone you love has been affected by the viral outbreak at the pediatric unit of the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, our legal team at Levinson Axelrod, P.A. is available to help you better understand your legal rights and whether you may have a potential claim for compensation. Our medical malpractice lawyers have earned a reputation for success in this challenging practice area, and have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients across New Jersey. We know medical negligence can make for devastating damages and tragic losses, and are prepared to provide the compassionate and aggressive representation families need to navigate these difficult times and protect their legal rights.

To discuss a potential case, call (732) 440-3089 or contact us online for a FREE and confidential consultation.

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