Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Legionnaires lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires’ disease at Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings, Michigan, you might have cause to file a lawsuit. Call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

One of two patients has died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at a Michigan hospital that tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

Spectrum Health Pennock in Hastings tested several locations around the hospital on Dec. 18 after two patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and test results returned this week were positive for Legionella bacteria, which causes the disease.

The man who passed away was 92 years old; he was diagnosed with Legionnaires in November, treated for the disease, and then discharged to a rehab center, where he died from “chronic aspiration pneumonia.” Dr. J. Daniel Woodall, medical director of Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD), said it’s “not possible to determine if (the patient’s death) was linked to Legionnaires’ disease.”

Hospital officials said they’re unsure if he caught the disease from the hospital’s water supply and whether the disease is what killed him because his case was “very complex,” and he had other health issues.

The other patient sickened by Legionnaires’ disease was discharged from the hospital and has since recovered. They were treated for Legionnaires in September, but it’s also unknown whether their illness was hospital-acquired. Their age and gender were not released.

“We cannot correlate the two cases of Legionnaires’ disease and the bacteria in the water,” Woodall said.

The hospital is implementing several safety precautions, including providing alternative water sources, installing a new water filtration system, and testing additional patients for the disease.

“Patient safety, the safety of our visitors, and the safety of our staff is absolutely the most important thing to us at Spectrum Health,” said Leslie Jurecko, the vice president of quality, safety and experience at Spectrum Health System.

Spectrum Health is working collaboratively with local and state health departments and following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for legionellosis risk management.

More disease info

Legionnaires’ disease – also called legionellosis and Legionella pneumonia – is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. If it is not diagnosed early, it can lead to severe complications and even become deadly.

According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the United States on a yearly basis. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of the disease’s nonspecific signs and symptoms.

Ten percent of people who become infected with Legionnaires will die from the infection.

Legionella bacteria are contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets, usually in the form of mist or vapor. The bacteria, which grow best in warm water, are found primarily in human-made environments, such as:

  • water systems, such as those in hospitals, nursing homes, and hotels
  • large plumbing systems
  • cooling towers of air conditioning systems
  • hot-water tanks and heaters
  • equipment used in physical therapy
  • showers and faucets
  • hot tubs and whirlpools
  • swimming pools
  • mist machines and hand-held sprayers
  • decorative fountains.