Fatal adenovirus outbreak focus of New Jersey Senate hearing: 3 things to know

New Jersey's Senate Health Committee held a hearing Dec. 3 to investigate whether the Wanaque (N.J.) Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation responded quickly enough to one of the nation's worst recorded adenovirus outbreaks, reports northjersey.com.

Here are three things to know:

1. Wanaque Center officials first notified the state health department of the adenovirus outbreak Oct. 9, after two children had already died and another 20 exhibited symptoms of the virus. The outbreak ultimately killed 11 children and infected 35.

2. State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal, MD, testified at the hearing and said the facility technically met requirements for notifying the state about an outbreak, which entails waiting for laboratory results to confirm diagnoses. However, State Senate Health Committee Leader Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex County, said the fact that more and more children were developing symptoms "ought to trigger some action on the part of the facility in notifying the department," according to northjersey.com.

3. Wanaque Center owners Eugene Ehrenfeld and David Bruckstein did not attend the hearing. The center said it could not answer the Senate committee's questions due to "legal obligations to protect patient privacy" in a Nov. 30 letter to Mr. Vitale.

"We recognize that your hearing Monday would have afforded us the opportunity to describe to you and the public the extraordinary compassion and dedication of our staff," Wanaque Center Administrator Rowena Bautista wrote in the letter. "However, after careful considerations, we have concluded that a public hearing is not the appropriate setting for us to do so at this time."

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:

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