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Senate committee investigates virus outbreak at Wanaque center

NJBIZ - 12/10/2018

In the wake of the recent adenovirus outbreaks at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee heard testimony Monday from health care professionals and civilians about the impact of the outbreak that began in October.In the wake of the recent adenovirus outbreaks at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee heard testimony Monday from health care professionals and civilians about the impact of the outbreak that began in October.

Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-19th District and chairman of the committee, joined other legislators in grilling New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal on what led to 34 pediatric adenovirus cases and 11 deaths and asking what steps the health department has taken to prevent similar outbreaks from occurring in the future.

Elnahal told the committee that in addition to establishing a more timely notification process, the department has also enacted new infection-control protocols and is reviewing staffing ratios.

Vitale told Elnahal that more statewide beds for this patient population seemed necessary and the commissioner responded his department is exploring that option.

When asked by Vitale what the patient ratio was at the Wanaque center was, Elnahal said two-thirds were from New York compared to a third from New Jersey. Vitale then said reimbursement rates from both states needed to be investigated.

Several committee members queried the commissioner on the delay in relocating patients to safe environments. Elnahal said there was not sufficient space to relocate the patients initially.

“We couldn’t complete relocating patients until November,” he said.

Elnahal told the committee that the challenging needs of this patient population require more staff than the average long-term care facility.

Vitale cited a report by inspectors that revealed some staff did not follow hand-washing protocols such as touching ventilator tubes without gloves.

Elnahal responded that sort of behavior is not acceptable and more has to be done to enforce proper infection control procedures. He also addressed recent deficiencies in infection control at University Hospital in Newark where he said that two infection specialist teams have been sent to the neonatal ICU.

In November, two premature infants with confirmed cases of Acinetobacter baumannii died in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. Copyright 2018 BridgeTower Media. All Rights Reserved.

CREDIT: Anthony Vecchione

 
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