How Staff Shortages May Have Led To The Deaths Of Six Children At A Long-Term Care Facility in New Jersey

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According to USA Today, following a “severe outbreak of adenovirus” at a “long-term care facility for medically fragile children in New Jersey,” six patients died.

The deaths occurred in October, but news about them is coming late, to the shock of many, including Wanaque Assemblywoman Holly T. Schepisi. However, the deaths were held confidential to protect the patients and their families.

The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation is suffering from potential effects from staff shortages after it “came under new for-profit ownership in 2014.” Being short-staffed can result in heightened chances of overlooking cleanliness, which can lead to infections.

While adenoviruses are typically not life-threatening, they can be “for people with weakened immune systems,” as was the case, unfortunately, for these children. The viruses “affect the lining of the airways, intestines, eyes…and are responsible for some colds, coughs, [and] sore throats.” They have been most commonly compared to the flu or an extreme version of the common cold.

Any virus breakout in a care facility is detrimental to the health of the patients and staff. Hospitals and care facilities are enclosed spaces, where, although anti-bacterial measures are taken, germs and bacteria can travel quickly and live for elongated periods on shared surfaces. It is especially detrimental when an outbreak is not immediately detected and secured.

Following the outbreak, according to the Center administrator, Rowena Bautista, all the proper safety measures were put into force, including calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This strain of virus was typically only common within the military, and “a vaccine was developed” to combat that issue. “However, the vaccine is not given to non-military populations,” the results of which have been incredibly harmful not only in New Jersey, but in Oregon as well back in 2014.

The case in New Jersey is particularly harrowing though, due to the patients it affected. The Wanaque Center is responsible for “92 children and 135 adults,” many of whom remain there 24/7 due to their medical conditions, which can range from “neuromuscular and respiratory problems caused by genetic issues” to “accidents at birth or abuse they suffered.” Many of the patients require “ventilators to breathe,” or “live in comas.”

Twelve more patients were also infected by the virus and are receiving treatment. The private corporation that owns the Wanaque Center has been contacted for a statement, but they have yet to respond to comment on the events.