New Jersey's 39th Legislative District

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Senator Gerald Cardinale

Cardinale Legislation to Require Pediatric Cohorting Plans in Response to Wanaque Virus Deaths

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In response to a severe viral outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, Senator Gerry Cardinale (R-39) will introduce legislation requiring pediatric hospitals in New Jersey to develop plans to cohort patients who exhibit signs of potentially contagious infections.

Following the deaths of 11 children, legislation by Sen. Gerry Cardinale will require pediatric hospitals to develop plans to cohort patients who exhibit signs of potentially contagious infections. (©iStock)

“We were devastated to learn this morning that an 11th child has died from a contagious infection they received at the Wanaque Center,” said Cardinale. “This is an absolute tragedy for all of the families that are still struggling to understand what went wrong. We’re learning that part of the problem was an inability to separate those who were showing symptoms of infection from those who were not. We need to ensure that every pediatric facility has a plan and the ability to cohort patients to prevent dangerous viral outbreaks from spreading.”

Cohorting is the practice of grouping patients with the same infection together in a segregated area. Cohorted patients are often treated by dedicated staff that does not treat other patients. This practice helps prevent those who are sick or their caregivers from transmitting infectious diseases to other patients who may be susceptible.

The outbreak of a dangerous strain of adenovirus at the Wanaque Center in Passaic County proved especially deadly given the medically fragile state of the children receiving treatment at the facility.

Cardinale’s legislation will require pediatric facilities like Wanaque to develop both plans and the capacity to cohort patients who exhibit signs of illness. New facilities will need a cohorting plan in place before they will be permitted to open, and existing facilities will have six months to comply.

“The simple fact is that the Wanaque Center does not appear to have any cohort capacity at this time,” added Cardinale. “It’s extremely concerning that they don’t have a plan to prevent a similar outbreak from causing such devastation in the future. Every parent of every patient deserves to know that their children will be safe when entrusted to a pediatric hospital for care, and we’re going to force those facilities to develop plans that provide that assurance.”

The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation is located in Haskell, within Cardinale’s legislative district.

He and his district mates, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi and Assemblyman Bob Auth, have introduced S-3200/A-4729, which requires certain facilities to notify patients or legal guardians of an outbreak of a contagious disease within 24 hours of the onset of the outbreak.

Many parents have expressed concern that they did not learn of the danger at the Wanaque Center until weeks after the outbreak began, including one mother who was only notified the day before her daughter passed away.

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