The family of a University of Maryland student who died during an adenovirus outbreak on campus is applauding Governor Larry Hogan’s call for an investigation into the incident.
Among the dozens of students who were sickened during the outbreak in 2018, 15 of them required hospitalization.
Olivia Paregol’s family issued the letter on Friday thanking Hogan, and criticizing the school.
“We are thankful for Governor Hogan’s action in calling for an immediate investigation of the decision-making process of leaders and the practices at the University of Maryland as they relate to the school’s failures that led not only to our daughter, Olivia’s, death but also allowed a known virus to spread to at least 45 University students requiring 15 of them to be hospitalized.”
The school came under fire for waiting 18 days to make the outbreak public, and on Thursday, Hogan called for an investigation into the way the school handled the situation.
In a letter to the Board of Regents on Thursday, the Governor put the school’s approach to the outbreak into the context of the circumstances surrounding the death of football player Jordan McNair.
Click here to read the Governor’s letter in full.
Complete letter from the family:
Glenwood, Maryland May 31, 2019 - We are thankful for Governor Hogan’s action in calling for an immediate investigation of the decision-making process of leaders and the practices at the University of Maryland as they relate to the school’s failures that led not only to our daughter, Olivia’s, death but also allowed a known virus to spread to at least 45 University students requiring 15 of them to be hospitalized. It is striking that the university’s array of failures this past fall comes just 4 years after both Medical Director, David McBride and University President, Wallace Loh were involved in the meningitis outbreak on campus in the Fall of 2014, where lessons about disclosure and best practices should have been learned.
We hope that a truly independent body with no ties to the University of Maryland will examine the circumstances around the university’s virus disclosures; determine what the university knew and when it knew about the outbreak; review the communications between the Prince George’s County Dept. of Health, the State Dept. of Health, the CDC and other private and public health leaders; assess the university’s compliance with its own documented infectious disease response policies; examine the timing associated with the health center’s knowledge of the developing adenovirus outbreak and its responsibility to inform students. Equally important, we expect the investigators to assess all of these aspects under the public relations cloud that had intensified with additional developments surrounding Jordan McNair death which also began to expose deficiencies for the university leadership team in the fall of 2018 at the same time as the extensive mold concerns and adenovirus outbreak emerged.
Further, we hope the Governor’s team will also consider examining the practices and decisions of the University as they relate to both the university’s purposeful decision to exceed residential capacity within the dormitories and the leadership’s actions and inactions related to the additional health crisis of the rampant mold growth in the dorms, especially in Elkton Hall where Olivia resided. Students were at greater risk for adverse health consequences because the university also failed to disclose, test, clean using proper practices, and certify that Elkton Hall was free of mold. The university saw a noticeable increase in the number of students seeking treatment at the University Health Center for respiratory illness. The medical director at the university recognized that those with respiratory illness would be at greater risk for an adverse adenovirus impact. And in spite of that additional risk - also caused by the university’s recklessness - the University still failed to provide timely disclosure to impacted students and failed to recognize that immuno-suppressed students, like Olivia, would be in even greater danger.
As parents, we have a reasonable expectation that our children who pay to attend the University of Maryland will be kept safe from harm, especially that harm which is within the University’s degree of control: proper dorm capacity, a mold-free residential environment, appropriate health care, communication of campus risks. We entrusted the University of Maryland with our most precious of gifts; however, the University’s failures at each of these levels demonstrates a reckless pattern of disregard for the health and safety of staff and students, where the university has placed its own public relations needs ahead of the students’ health. That pattern is truly disgraceful for what was deemed the ‘flagship’ university in the state.