A former longtime employee of the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Passaic County said he was often understaffed and had filled the beds in the nursing home, "was of the utmost importance" – even if patients needed hospital treatment.
Sherry McGhie, who had worked as a certified nursing assistant in Wanaque for 27 years, told a Senate committee investigating the fatal outbreak in Wanaque's Child Wing that conditions would improve remarkably if managers knew that state inspectors were traveling.
Inspectorate season there are more staff and supplies, and even management comes out and helps, "said McGhie to the Trenton State Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens House on Monday.
" Sometimes it feels , In fact, one of the first things that happens when a state inspector enters the building is a message sent through the intercom that says, "One way or the other, extension number 1
5 children were dead. Yet, no one said for nearly two weeks to the health commissioner of NJ  Former employees, union representatives and a lawyer Six families affected by the adenovirus outbreak attended the nearly three-hour hearing, which discussed how 35 children became infected and eleven died.
McGhie, who left Wanaque in September, reiterated many of these feelings NJ Advance Media told two workers last month how managers have delayed the sending of high-fever children to a hospital, fearing that transfers would damage Medicaid Would stop funding immediately. McGhie testified that she had worked in her experience in both the pediatric and geriatric departments. The management's preference was to keep the patients in the nursing home and not send them to the hospital.
Wanaque's representatives did not attend the hearing. The administrator, Rowena Bautista, sent a letter to the committee denying the allegations that financial interests were being taken care of before the mentally ill children were taken care of in the institution's facility.
"We recognize that your Monday hearing gave us the opportunity to show you and the public the extraordinary compassion and commitment of our employees. We would have been particularly grateful to address and override any allegations that have been made in the press, particularly that a financial reason would ever prevail over the judgment of our physicians, "said Bautista. "These suggestions are categorically wrong."
Deborah White, president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, another union in Wanaque, said she believes the lack of staff and a lack of consistent training have played a role in the spread of the virus. 19659002] Senator Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, the chairman of the committee, however, challenged her statement. He read an inspection report that documented how employees do not constantly wash their hands or change their gloves.
"One would think RNs (registered nurses) would know what to do and what not to do," said Vitale, adding "no apology" for the violations.
White said, "I've been a nurse for 35 years, we can look at the individual mistakes or look at the system and submit – the occupation is huge."
Vitale said he was waiting for the State Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal and the Health Department would be completing an investigation into the outbreak until it should make recommendations to improve how health services should respond in the future.
Susan K. Livio may be at slivio @ njadvancemedia .com Follow it on Twitter @SusanKLivio . Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.