A Miami daycare center attended by two children who died a week apart had no designated area to isolate sick children from healthy ones, according to a Florida Department of Children and Families inspection performed just days before the first child passed away.
The state agency gave the YWCA Carol Glassman Donaldson Child Care Center 30 days to find an "adequately ventilated" area designated for sick kids. The center's director told inspectors that "she is getting the area ready for re-inspection" on Jan. 1, according to the report.
Two days later on Dec. 3, a 22-month-old boy who had been initially diagnosed with pneumonia but later tested positive for pneumococcal meningitis, died. A second child, a 2-year-old boy who also attended the center died on Dec. 10.
The cause of death has not been determined for the second child, and it is not yet known if the child had meningitis.
"The Department of Children and Families does not know whether the deaths are connected or if the deaths are even connected to the daycare themselves," said Jose Galan, with Miami-Dade County's Internal Services Department.
The inspection noted a number of other issues, including "evidence of rodent or vermin infestation," a change of diapers that occurred on a surface that "was not impermeable" and ground cover under playground equipment that was not maintained.
The daycare center remained closed Wednesday as the State Department of Health, DCF, and the YWCA investigated. YWCA officials said all of the facility's children have received medical checkups and were found to be okay, and that the building had been sanitized twice.
"These are our YW babies. Everything that we can do for our children, for our families, for our staff right now is paramount," said Kerry-Ann Royes, executive director of YWCA.
YWCA officials said they notified parents as soon as they got word from the health department and have updated them of developments. They are encouraging parents to be diligent in monitoring their children for any symptoms of the flu.
Symptoms of meningitis include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, drowsiness or confusion, nausea, and vomiting. These bacteria are common and are spread from person to person by sneezing and coughing, direct contact with saliva, sputum or nasal mucus of infected people.
"We are devastated by the death of two small children who attended this child care facility and we continue to grieve with their families and loved ones," DCF said in a statement. "DCF is committed to working closely with the Department of Health while we conduct a joint inspection at the Carol Glassman Donaldson Child Care facility in Miami-Dade County."