The rehab facility at the center of the viral outbreak that left 11 children dead will have to pay a $600,000 fine after federal inspectors found systems failures “directly contributed” to the rapid spread of the virus, according to NorthJersey.com.
The federal government is imposing the fine on the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in the wake of a scathing report by investigators on the center’s conditions and lack of leadership, the media outlet said Saturday.
Kids at the Passaic County rehab facility have lifelong disabilities and need constant care to survive. But a deadly adenovirus outbreak started sweeping through the center last September, sickening 36 children and killing 11 others.
Adenovirus includes a number of respiratory virus strains that can cause mild or serious illness.
Federal inspectors alleged the facility was ill-prepared to contain the outbreak because of an absentee medical director, poor infection controls and a “failure to provide timely interventions and care.”
Federal inspectors strongly criticized the facility’s medical director, Maged Ghaly, who told investigators that he was never given clear direction on his responsibilities.
Ghaly told inspectors that he first thought the state Department of Health had overreacted when the virus first struck.
“I said how is it going to spread? That was in October,” he told investigators. “I knew we had a problem after the fourth death.”
The first child died in early October. The death toll would eventually reach 11 by mid-November.
Wanaque’s attorney Andrew P. Aronson called the report “fundamentally inaccurate, riddled with factual inaccuracies … and sensational accusatory conclusions that lack any support whatsoever,” in a letter to the inspectors.
Wanaque will appeal the findings, Aronson wrote.
Editor’s note: Do you have a family member on the pediatric unit at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, or a child who has been affected by the viral outbreak there? NJ.com would like to hear from you. You may reach us at (732) 902-4559, or write to Susan Livio at firstname.lastname@example.org, Spencer Kent at email@example.com, or Ted Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org.