After Virus Outbreak, Federal Government Fines New Jersey Nursing Home

The federal government fined a New Jersey nursing home for $600k after a deadly adenovirus outbreak killed 11 children and infected 37 other residents, according to NJ.com. The nursing home, Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, is a long-term care facility in northern New Jersey with senior citizens and children who require around-the-clock care and monitoring. According to federal regulators, insufficient safety protocols led to the deadly outbreak and permitted its rapid spread across the assisted living facility.

In a scathing report released last week, the federal government cited numerous safety violations that enabled the rapid spread of the virus. The protocols at the retirement home were so insufficient that medical staff did not even realize an outbreak was occurring until the fourth child died. The federal report details violations including a lack of infection control plan, a “void of leadership,” and an off-site medical director who was so disengaged she only checked on the facility weekly.

The medical director, who received the brunt of investigator’s ire, said he did not even know what his job responsibilities included. He even told federal investigators, “I didn’t understand what medical director meant.” He says he was given the title after working at the facility for 11 years and being the “only one left.” The incompetent medical director then said, “No one gave me a job description and I signed the contract.” Federal investigators said that he usually sent a registered nurse to check on the site and she failed to implement “timely interventions and care” when the outbreak started worsening at the retirement home.

In response to the allegations of administrative misconduct and medical negligence, Wanaque issued a statement describing the allegations as “fundamentally inaccurate, riddled with factual inaccuracies…. and sensational accusatory conclusions that lack any support whatsoever. The retirement home said it plans to appeal the findings in the federal report. The $600k fine may be the least of the nursing home’s worries, though. The state department responsible for overseeing nursing homes has also begun an investigation into the viral outbreak. The parents of children living at the facility have also vowed to file lawsuits and hold those responsible for the outbreak accountable.

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