State Sen. Codey calls for criminal investigation into facility were 11 died in outbreak

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State Sen. Richard Codey is calling for a criminal investigation into a New Jersey rehabilitation facility where 11 children died amid a viral outbreak.

The Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation began taking in new patients Thursday – for the first time since the outbreak began last year. But Codey says that the facility should no longer be operating and says that the owners and managers should be held accountable.

“What was the factor in not transferring [the sick] to the hospital immediately?” Codey asks.

The outbreak of the adenovirus sickened 36 children and took the lives of 11 whose medical conditions were extremely fragile. The question many are asking is; why weren't these children moved from that facility as the death-toll started to rise? Codey says he wants to know if management refused to move these children for fear of losing guaranteed money from Medicaid.

“They get $515 a day per bed, as long as that child is in the bed,” says Codey. “Once the child moves out they no longer get that $515 per day.”

RELATED: Report: Company leaders are faulted in outbreak that killed 11 kids 
RELATED: NJ leaders hold hearing on adenovirus outbreak at Wanaque facility 

A recent federal inspection cited the facility with a $600,000 fine. The report found that the facility was not prepared for an outbreak, delayed treatment for sick children and was lacking in handwashing and infection control practices.

Codey is a member of the Senate Health Committee. He says that he wants answers from Continuum Healthcare, the company that owns the facility. He says that officials from the company were invited to speak at a committee hearing, but refused.

Many of the patients who reside at this facility are wards of the state. Codey says that if these children were from wealthy families, this wouldn’t have happened.

“I don’t think it would’ve happened and I think even if it did, we would have much more action than we did. I’ve said that to the attorney general,” he says.

The senator says that at the very least a charge of criminal negligence should be considered. The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General is investigating.

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