Elliot Olsen has regained millions of dollars for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires while at a hospital in the Mount Carmel Health System, please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Two cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been diagnosed in people who received treatment at Mount Carmel East in Columbus, Ohio, according to a statement by the Mount Carmel Health System. The outbreak is the second experienced in the Mount Carmel Health System this year.

The Mount Carmel East Hospital is on the east side of Columbus, at 6001 East Broad Street. The Franklin County hospital, which opened in 1972, is the largest hospital in the Mount Carmel Health System network, and the fourth-largest hospital in central Ohio.

“We’ve taken several steps to protect our patients, staff, and visitors, including implementing extensive water restrictions throughout the hospital,” read the statement by Mount Carmel Health System. “We are running additional tests on water sources throughout the hospital, and our entire water supply is undergoing hyperchlorination. We’re confident that we can safely maintain full services of the hospital while we study this situation.”

Hospital officials are working with Columbus Public Health (CPH), the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify the source of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Mount Carmel Health System: third issue in 2019

This is the third Legionella issue to affect the Mount Carmel Health System this year.

The first, announced May 31, occurred at Mount Carmel Grove City in suburban Columbus. Franklin County Public Health confirmed 16 patients were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, and one victim died. The outbreak occurred a little more than a month after the seven-floor, $361 million hospital opened for business on April 28.

Trinity Health, the Michigan-based parent company of the Mount Carmel Health System, traced the infectious Legionella to the facility’s hot water system. Officials said the contamination was the result of “inadequate disinfection.”

Trinity Health officials admitted they failed to adequately re-test and re-clean the water supply on particular floors before the newly constructed Grove City hospital opened its doors in late April.

In August, the Mount Carmel Health System’s second tussle with Legionella occurred at the Mount Carmel College of Nursing. Officials said elevated levels of the bacteria were detected in the water supply at Marian Hall on the College’s Franklinton campus. Construction disrupted the building’s water supply, and subsequent water tests uncovered the presence of bacteria. No illnesses were connected to the college.

Mount Carmel Health System: symptoms

Mount Carmel Health System officials said that while the risk of developing Legionnaires’ disease is low for most people, anyone with a chronic underlying condition is at increased risk.

Out of an abundance of caution, you should seek care from your health-care provider if you are or were a patient at Mount Carmel East, an employee of, or recent visitor to the hospital and are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms.

Symptoms often can be mistaken for the common flu, and they usually develop two to 10 days after exposure to Legionella. Initial symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • muscle pains
  • chills
  • fever, which can be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

By the second or third day, symptoms can worsen to include:

  • cough, which can bring up mucus or blood
  • shortness of breath, also called dyspnea
  • chest pains, also called pleurisy or pleuritis
  • gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • confusion and other mental changes.

Legionellosis is the collective term for the two diseases caused by Legionella bacteria: Legionnaires’ disease, which is also called Legionella pneumonia, and Pontiac fever, a less-severe illness.

Although Legionnaires’ disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and other parts of the body, including the heart.

Mount Carmel Health System: high risk

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.”

The disease develops when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist). It is often overlooked or undiagnosed because of its vague symptoms, leading to it being underreported, according to the CDC.

For the disease to be classified correctly, specific testing and diagnosis must be done from a Legionnaires’ disease standpoint, and those tests are often not ordered. It’s not required for physicians to order Legionella-specific testing when a patient presents with pneumonia.

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.

Others 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.

The 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, hospitalization is often necessary. In the most severe cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.