The father of the University of Maryland student who died in November due to complications from adenovirus slammed the school’s administration at a budget hearing in Annapolis on Monday.
At the hearing, Ian Paregol criticized this university for what he said was a botched treatment of his daughter’s sickness and a failure to communicate adequately about the disease.
“[I] was assured … by the university of a reasonable expectation that [my] daughter and other students and staff would be kept safe from harm from the university. And that expectation was not met,” Paregol said. “Instead, the University of Maryland has demonstrated a continuing pattern of indifference to the safety and health of the students and staff.”
Paregol’s daughter, freshman criminology and criminal justice major Olivia Paregol, died Nov. 18 after contracting a serious strain of adenovirus. The medicine she took for her Crohn’s disease weakened her immune system, her father said.
While the CDC has said there is no known connection between adenovirus and mold, Ian Paregol has previously questioned whether the widespread mold in Olivia’s Elkton Hall dorm played a role in her condition.
Student affairs vice president Linda Clement, who testified at Monday’s hearing, described the humidity that caused the mold as unprecedented and stressed the university’s commitment to preventing another outbreak.
Last month, the university announced a variety of measures to prevent future mold outbreaks in 16 of the oldest dorms on campus, including installing dehumidifers and upgrading HVAC systems.
But in Annapolis on Monday, Paregol reiterated his concerns. He said he’s distrustful of the way the Health Center handled his daughter’s case and the way the university communicated about the outbreak.
“She was given no blood test, no prescription, no suggestion to see a more competent physician,” Paregol said. “Instead, she was sent back to her dorm … Had we known and had she known of the possibility of adenovirus, she would have had different treatment from day one.”
In an email, university spokesperson Katie Lawson said the university’s approach to Adenovirus “was established in partnership with state and local public health officials who specialize in infectious diseases, who also take guidance from the Centers for Disease Control.”
Monday’s public hearing comes as part of the General Assembly’s review of Gov. Larry Hogan’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which he unveiled last month. The legislature can decide to increase or decrease Hogan’s recommended $2.2 billion in funding for this university, and budget must be finalized by April.
Paregol asked the House of Delegates Education and Economic Development Subcommittee to reconsider the university’s slated $61.1 million increase in state funding for fiscal 2020.
“I believe that the list of actions or inactions has a bearing on the university’s budget,” Paregol told delegates. “They’re using public funds with little to no oversight of the practices they employ and the decisions they make.”
The health center reported in January that 42 students contracted adenovirus, with 13 of this number coming down with adenovirus 7, the serious strain that killed Paregol.
McBride also spoke at the hearing. He testified that the adenovirus outbreak was unusual and the university accelerated its usual winter health messaging.
“Adenovirus, in the variety that we saw, is not at all common on college campuses,” he said. “Typically, we release a message about influenza and influenza-like illness to our campus in January … That message was accelerated significantly, so in early November we sent our first message out about influenza-like illness, of which adenovirus is one cause.”
That influenza message was sent on Nov. 9, though the university did not publicly mention the adenovirus outbreak until Nov. 19, one day after Paregol’s death.
In emails to students about the virus, McBride had said there is no vaccine for adenovirus and urged students to practice healthy habits, stay home if ill and see a doctor if they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.