PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
November 14, 2018

Shereef Elnahal

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

NJ Department of Health Takes Enforcement Action Against Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation

The New Jersey Department of Health took enforcement action against the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation today, prohibiting all new admissions to the entire facility and requiring the hiring of a certified Infection Control Practioner (ICP) and the services of a Department approved physician or physician practice with board certification in infectious disease. This decision comes as a result of serious infection control deficiencies cited in ongoing inspections.

The curtailment of admissions to the pediatric respiratory unit takes effect immediately and will remain in effect until Wanaque demonstrates that the facility is able to fully comply with directives provided by the Department’s Communicable Disease Service on separating medically fragile residents without symptoms in the pediatric respiratory unit—where the adenovirus outbreak has spread—from those who have the virus, including grouping residents by laboratory testing status and symptoms experienced by residents.  Wanaque may request Department approval to re-admit a former pediatric respiratory patient at the facility.

Previously, the expectation was that the pediatric facility would not accept new admissions until the end of the outbreak. Now, this is a formal curtailment until they are able to make the facility comply with a Department directive to separate pediatric patients without symptoms from those who have the adenovirus.

The curtailment of new admissions to the rest of the facility also takes effect immediately and remains in effect until the Department lifts the curtailment.

The curtailment of admissions action, detailed in an enforcement letter to the facility, requires Wanaque to hire a Department approved ICP; and the services of a Department approved physician or physician practice with board certification in infectious disease. The ICP will work with Wanaque, the infectious disease physician or group practice and the Department of Health to review the facility’s practices and implement the Department and the ICP’s recommendations. Wanaque is required to submit weekly reports to the Department.

“This enforcement action will require the facility to be able to safely separate medically fragile children before they can accept any new admissions to the respiratory unit,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal. “The fact that we are continuing to see new, confirmed cases at this point, despite all efforts toward strict adherence to protocols, has made the facility’s layout limitations clear. This action is required to keep patients safer in the future.”

The curtailment of admissions and plan of correction will remain in place until lifted by the Department. Failure to comply could result in civil monetary penalties and/or suspension or revocation of the facility’s license. These actions also lay the groundwork for possible further enforcement actions, if ongoing investigations reveal major deficiencies.

There have been 33 pediatric cases of adenovirus associated with this outbreak including 10 deaths of severely ill children. One staff person at the facility also was confirmed with adenovirus but has since recovered.

The strain of adenovirus that has sickened so many children at Wanaque is a type (#7) that is common to communal settings such as nursing homes and military bases. It is known to cause severe illness. These immune-compromised children are not eligible for the vaccine that was developed for this strain of the virus.

The Department will continue its ongoing work with the facility to contain the current outbreak.

Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about adenovirus.

Follow New Jersey Health Commissioner Elnahal on Twitter.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

Last Reviewed: 11/14/2018