Former patient describes grim conditions at health center where 10 children died

HASKELL, N.J. — Officials on Wednesday confirmed another death from a virus spreading through a rehab center in New Jersey. The state’s Health Department says this is the tenth child to die after contracting adenovirus at the facility, CBS New York reports.

The child lived at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell where so far 27 cases of illness in children have been tied to the outbreak.

The children living at the center are all severely disabled and those who died had compromised immune systems before the outbreak.

Adenovirus is a common respiratory virus which can sometimes cause serious illness. Symptoms can include developing a cold, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, or pink eye. Bladder infections, inflammation of the stomach or intestines, and neurological diseases have also been linked to the virus.

The facility is not admitting any new patients while the outbreak is still being dealt with. State inspectors reported finding lax hand-washing among staff that could have helped spread infections. 

Different units at the Wanaque Center house children and adult patients, including one former patient who described poor conditions in an interview with CBS New York station WCBS.

Eugene Dorio said he went through eight weeks of hell while living at the Wanaque Center.

“There’s just no compassion, ya know?” the 66-year-old diabetic said.

“It was really dirty, they didn’t really take care of me,” he said. “It was like I had to wait for another shift to come in another two hours to change me, and this went on daily.”

Dorio says he visited the pediatric unit, where the medically fragile children lived, about once a week. He says the children there always seemed to be sick.

The former patient added the center would sometimes smell of urine or feces, something the staff would blame on patients’ bodily functions.

“Well that’s your job,” Dorio says. “Clean it up and get rid of the smell.”

Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has pushed back against the former patient’s claims, citing its record of being ranked in the top 10 percent of nursing facilities in the U.S.

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