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NorthJersey.com reporter Scott Fallon reports an update after a seventh child dies after an adenovirus outbreak at a Wanaque health facility.
North Jersey Record

OSSINING, NY – When Kristine Deleg decided four years to give her daughter care in a nursing home in New Jersey, she thought she was going to get the best of both worlds receive: the continuous medical care of their seriously ill child in a facility that was less than an hour away from home.

But when Elizabeth Poulos – who could not talk and fight with lifelong respiratory problems, stomach problems and seizures – died on Tuesday. The 16-year-old became the youngest victim of an adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Haskell, New Jersey, which claimed seven child lives and left a dozen others ill.

That left Deleg, 52, wondering why the private care center was not reporting her outbreak until Monday – nearly three weeks after Elizabeth was admitted to St. Joseph's University Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, and only one day before she died.

Delegate from Ossining, New York, never had a problem with caring for her daughter and said she had been surprised by the sudden oversight.

► Oct. 24: Seventh child dies of adenovirus infection in the New Jersey Health Center
► Oct. 23: Six children die of long-term adenovirus nursing homes in New Jersey
► Oct. 18: What Parents Should Know at the Outbreak of a Polio-Like Paralyzing Disease

"I never suspected any signs of trouble," she said. "That's why I'm really shocked."

"You know these kids are frail. It's not like you and me, "said Deleg.

Elizabeth Poulos – unable to speak and struggling with lifelong respiratory diseases, stomach problems, and seizures – died on October 23, 2018 of an adenovirus outbreak in the Haskell, New Jersey, long-term care center where she resided. (Photo: Courtesy of Family Deleg]

"There was definitely a breakdown in communication … If you're dealing with this kind of situation and you're dealing with those kids that are so fragile "You have to do that immediately," said Deleg. "I did not know the extent until the day she died."

How the virus affects the 227-bed facility that severely affected te and medically fragile children treated among others about 40 kilometers northwest of New York City, hit, is hard to know, officials from the New Jersey Health Department said Wednesday.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that affect the lining of the respiratory system, the intestines, the eyes or the urinary tract and are responsible for colds, coughs, sore throats, conjunctivitis and diarrhea.

The diseases are usually mild, but can also be fatal for people like Elizabeth. The State Health Officer of New Jersey, Dr. Shereef Elnahal said the virus strain has devastating effects on children with weakened immune systems.

Since 2015, the center has been cited for several deficiencies that could lead to the spread of the infection According to government inspections, it temporarily failed to properly monitor patients and manage sanitation

But the center's administrator said this week that the staff took all available infection control and prevention measures to protect the health of the patients and safety.

The Wanaque Center is approved for 92 children and 135 adults and can service more than 60 children who rely on ventilators. But the state has prevented the center from taking in new patients until the outbreak ends.

► Oct. 12: More children do not receive vaccinations from their doctors, says CDC
► January 29: Adenovirus: It feels like the flu, but the vaccine is for military use only

Deleg said she was trying to pick up the pieces

But she still can not grasp the intransparency of the center. She would have dealt with it differently if she had known about the outbreak.

However, she is not sure if her daughter will survive as the virus affects Elizabeth's exhausted immune system.

"My daughter could not fight with it anymore," she said, "I think it was too much for her. She has only fought a good fight. But one day I said to her, "You know what, I know you're done, I know it's you, sweetheart." She could not tell me in words, but I knew it.

Follow Steve Janoski on Twitter: @SteveJanoski

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