Sick with Legionnaires’ disease?
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Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires at Mount Carmel Grove City, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

A new hospital in Grove City, Ohio, is dealing with an unprecedented problem after seven patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease since the hospital opened April 28.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) ordered Mount Carmel Grove City officials to “take immediate action to contain a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak” after ODH officials learned of the outbreak at the suburban Columbus hospital.

The ODH action – which the health department’s news release called a “rare adjudication order” – ordered the hospital to take the following steps:

  • Flush all hot- and cold-water lines and fixtures throughout the entire seven-floor, 210-bed facility.
  • Implement immediate remediation practices to disinfect hot- and cold-water lines and fixtures.
  • Test and clean all ice machines.
  • Ensure that the building’s two cooling towers are cleaned and serviced.
  • Provide any and all test results to the ODH.
  • Provide a water-management plan to the ODH.

“To protect patients, employees, and visitors, we have acted swiftly today after my team discovered a connection between seven confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease in patients at Mount Carmel Grove City,” ODH director Dr. Amy Acton said in a news release. “Working in collaboration with Franklin County Public Health (FCPH), I issued an adjudication order to immediately reduce the risk of further infection. It is our understanding that hospital officials have begun implementing the steps outlined in the order.”

If hospital officials fail to implement Acton’s directives, she said she will order them to “cease accepting new patients.”

Mount Carmel Grove City:
Investigators on scene

The hospital is working with investigators from the ODH, FCPH, Columbus Public Health (CPH), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All are on site this weekend trying to determine the source of the Legionella, which is the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

The CDC’s Legionella Environmental Assessment tool was used to “identify high-risk areas,” according to Rebecca Fugitt, assistant chief of the ODH’s Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection.

“We are running additional tests on water sources throughout the hospital, and our entire water supply is undergoing supplemental disinfection,” read a statement from Dr. Richard Streck, chief clinical-operations officer with Mount Carmel Health System. “We’re confident that we can safely maintain full services of the hospital while we study this situation.”

Mount Carmel Grove City:
Outbreak numbers grow

Mount Carmel Grove City officials said they learned of the first case from Franklin County Public Health early last week, and then learned of two more cases Thursday and Friday. Hospital officials said they then identified four other cases Friday.

In its adjudication order, the ODH denoted the first patient was admitted to the hospital one day after its April 28 opening and stayed until May 7. Five additional cases were inpatients from May 8 through May 20. Onset cases ranged from May 12 to May 29 and were confirmed through urine antigen testing.

No additional information has been released on the seven sickened patients. Legionnaires’ disease can be fatal, but thus far no deaths have been reported.

ODH spokesperson Jose Rodriquez said it would not be unusual for other cases to be discovered. Area medical facilities have been sent an advisory to watch for signs of the disease and test for it, if necessary.

Samantha Irons, a hospital spokesperson, said surgeries and procedures are being performed as scheduled. Bagged ice and bottled water are being supplied to patients, staff, and visitors, and patients who request a shower are instead being given sponge baths.

Mount Carmel Grove City:
Increased risk for patients

A 2015 study by the CDC stated that “75 percent of (Legionnaires’ disease) acquired in health-care settings could be prevented with better water management.”

Most people exposed to Legionella do not get sick, but people 50 years old and older – especially those who smoke or have chronic lung conditions – are at a higher risk.

Other people more susceptible to infection include:

  • recipients of organ transplants
  • individuals who are on specific drug protocols (corticosteroids, to name one)
  • heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.

This list also includes anyone with an immune system weakened by:

  • frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis or skin infections
  • organ inflammation and infection
  • blood disorders, such as low platelet counts or anemia
  • digestive problems, such as cramping, appetite loss, diarrhea, and nausea
  • delayed growth and development.

After Legionnaires’ disease has been diagnosed, if the patient isn’t already in the hospital, they more than likely soon will be. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Mount Carmel Grove City:
ICU a distinct possibility

The disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection. According to the CDC, an estimated 25,000 cases of pneumonia due to Legionella bacteria (Legionella pneumophila) occur in the U.S. every year. However, only 5,000 cases are reported because of its nonspecific symptoms (see below).

The severity of the illness is illustrated in a recent study from the University of Minnesota. Based on data from the CDC and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), the researchers said that “approximately 9 percent of legionellosis cases, caused by waterborne Legionella bacteria, are fatal, and 40 percent require intensive care.”

Mount Carmel Grove City:
Legionnaires’ symptoms

Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. It frequently begins with the following symptoms:

  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, other symptoms develop, including:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.