Children’s Hospital To Be Evaluated, After Fatal Outbreak Elsewhere

Photo courtesy Children's Specialized Hospital

TOMS RIVER – A specialty hospital in Toms River will get a visit from the New Jersey Department of Health in November to ensure it has an adequate infection prevention control program in place.

Prompted by the deaths of nine children at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, New Jersey, the Department said it would be scheduling a visit with other children’s hospitals – including Children’s Specialized Hospital in Toms River and Mountainside – for inspections and training.

The Department released a final report on the Haskell facility. According to industry standards set forth by the Centers Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Haskell facility had deficiencies in its infection prevention, but overall did not deliver substandard care to its immunocompromised pediatric patients.

“Every year in the state, there are hundreds of outbreaks at healthcare facilities,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “Facility outbreaks are not always preventable, but best practices can be used to minimize the chance they occur among the most vulnerable patients in New Jersey,”

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The Department’s Division of Health Facility Survey and Field Operations found that infection control issues rank in the top three of deficiencies cited during healthcare facility inspections. CMS said infection control is a top deficiency for nursing homes and hospitals nationally.

Patients at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation got sick from adenovirus. Eighteen children got sick, and 9 died. The virus usually causes minor illness in healthy children and adults, but can be deadly to immunocompromised persons.

CMS will implement new long-term care facility regulations by November 2019, which will require those facilities to have on-site an infection preventionist to oversee the infection prevention control program.

It was unclear if Children’s Specialized Hospital already has an infection preventionist on site. Its Toms River location is both a long-term care facility and outpatient center on Stevens Road.

The New Jersey Department of Health has, since October 2016, dedicated $102,915 to the education of 212 nursing homes staff in infection control through a partnership with New Jersey Hospital Association and the Northern & Southern NJ Chapters of Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.