Mom wasn't told of care center's outbreak for weeks

North Jersey Record

Published 6:29 AM EDT Oct 26, 2018

Mom wasn't told of care center's outbreak for weeks

OSSINING, N.Y. – When Kristine Deleg decided four years ago to put her daughter into long-term care at a New Jersey nursing home, she thought she was getting the best of both worlds: continuous medical care for her persistently ill child at a facility less than an hour from home. 

But when Elizabeth Poulos – who could not speak and struggled with lifelong respiratory issues, stomach problems and seizures – died Tuesday, the 16-year-old became the latest casualty of an adenovirus outbreak at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey, that has claimed the lives of seven children and sickened a dozen more. 

That left Deleg, 52, wondering why the private care center didn't tell her about the outbreak until Monday – nearly three weeks after Elizabeth was admitted to St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, and just one day before she died. 

Deleg of Ossining, New York, never had an issue with her daughter's care and said she was blindsided with the sudden lapse. 

► Oct. 24: 7th child dies of adenovirus infection in New Jersey health-care center
► Oct. 23: Six children dead from adenovirus at long-term care facility in New Jersey
► Oct. 18: What parents should know on outbreak of polio-like paralyzing disease

"I never suspected any sign of trouble," she said. "That's why I'm really shocked.

"You know that these kids are frail. It's not like you and I," Deleg said.

Mom wasn't told of care center's outbreak for weeks

"There was definitely a breakdown in communication ...When you're dealing with this type of situation and you're dealing with these children that are so fragile, that's something you have to do right away," Deleg said. "I didn't know the scope until literally the day she passed."  

How the virus wormed its way into the 227-bed facility, which provides treatment for severely debilitated and medically fragile children among others about 25 miles northwest of New York City, is difficult to know, New Jersey Health Department officials said Wednesday.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that affect the lining of the airways, intestines, eyes or urinary tract and are responsible for some colds, coughs, sore throats, pinkeye and diarrhea.

The illnesses are usually mild, but they can be deadly for people like Elizabeth. New Jersey's state health commissioner, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, said the virus strain has a devastating effect on children with weakened immune systems.

Since 2015, the center had been cited for several deficiencies that could lead to the spread of infection, and it failed at times to properly supervise patients and handle medical equipment in a sanitary manner, according to state inspection reports.

But the center's administrator said this week that staff members have taken all available infection control and prevention measures to protect clients' health and safety. 

The Wanaque Center is licensed to care for 92 children and 135 adults and can care for more than 60 children who depend on ventilators to breathe. But the state has barred the center from taking new patients until the outbreak ends. 

► Oct. 12: More children aren't receiving vaccines from their doctors, CDC says
► Jan. 29: Adenovirus: It feels just like the flu, but the vaccine is for military only

Deleg said she is trying to pick up the pieces.

But she still can't grasp the center's lack of transparency. She would have dealt with things differently if she had known about the outbreak, she said.

Still, she's unsure if her daughter would have survived, given the virus' effect on Elizabeth's exhausted immune system.

"My daughter couldn't fight this anymore," she said. "I think it was too much on her. She just fought a good fight. But one day I said to her, 'You know what? I know you're done. I know you are, sweetie.' She couldn't tell me in words, but I knew." 

Follow Steve Janoski on Twitter: @SteveJanoski

Mom wasn't told of care center's outbreak for weeks


0 Comment


Comments are closed.