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More than 3,000 patients at the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
Amy Newman, North Jersey

SADDLE BROOK – A Midland Avenue operations center closed in September The Department of Health of New Jersey found that state investigators provided poor drug storage methods, an outdated infection control plan, and unacceptable sterilization procedures According to a government report published on Friday.

Two employees of the HealthPlus Surgery Center were dismissed and another resigned after the revelations that potentially exposed nearly 3,800 former patients to hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. The center opened set. 28, seven days after the submission of a correction plan to the state, said Mark Manigan, a lawyer from Roseland, who represents the center.

"We suspect the issues are related to employees who are no longer in the facility," Manigan said.

A pair of workers responsible for cleaning and disinfecting medical instruments used in surgery were dismissed for "performance-related issues".

The Center's Nursing Director resigned on September 6 – just one day before the Health Department, HealthPlus closed after investigating a lawsuit filed against him.

Manigan declined to say whether the resignation is directly related to the complaint and the subsequent closure.

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Anyone who remained in the Operations Center from January to September 7 may have been suspended. the Ministry of Health has said. However, no illnesses have been reported and the risk of infection is low, the department added. People have been advised to be tested out of "excess caution".

Betty McCabe, the operations center administrator, is not expected to resign, Manigan said.

Health Report

The Health Department's report, released to North Jersey and the US TODAY Network New Jersey, made a public request to register records that highlighted a series of security breaches by HealthPlus employees.

In one case, an employee could not adequately wet and disinfect a stretcher bearing a sheet containing a "wet red spot about 5 cm in diameter".

"Based on observations and employee surveys, it was found that the facility did not ensure that the transmission-based precautions were respected," the report said.

Government surveyors also found that workers had packed too many loose instruments into a small bag used to disinfect medical instruments, which "does not allow the sterilant to contact all surfaces of any instrument," it says in the report.

The report also found that the facility did not properly store sterilized items, which compromised their cleanliness. Other sterilized instruments showed rusty stains, the report said.

All responsibilities have been assigned to the Nursing Director under a correction plan.

"We have dealt with the issues," Manigan said. "We have introduced new processes and procedures and have first-class experts when needed."

The Saddle Brook Operations Center is state-approved and owned by Yan Moshe, a multi-million dollar real estate broker, Manigan said.

Moshe, who also owns an operations center in Hackensack that does not meet safety requirements, purchased the Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in December 2017 despite having no experience of running a hospital.

The Secaucus facility is now called Hudson Regional Hospital and is referred by HealthPlus Surgery Center to the patients being monitored.

Government regulators have also investigated the Excel Surgery Center, previously owned by Moshe, The Record reported. It was discovered that the center did not report a fire in the parking lot and the patients were evacuated. The inspectors also found that there were no appropriate procedures for the use of drugs with multiple doses of medication in the operating room. The center later submitted correction plans to the state and these were accepted.

A survey by The Record and NorthJersey.com in March found that some operating centers in the Garden State lack provisions and resources for emergencies.

Due to statehood of the state, certain types of single-operating-theater operations centers were not licensed by the State Department of Health and were not required to report their patient safety data. A bill introduced in New Jersey would require more than 150 centers currently operating without state licenses to obtain them.

There is evidence that the unlicensed centers of the state had more security issues after The Record's investigation.

Those who need to be tested for exposure in Saddle Brook can make an appointment at 1-888-507-0578.

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