Elliot Olsen has regained millions for people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. If you or a family member were sickened in this Upper Arlington nursing facility outbreak, please call Elliot at (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Health officials are investigating a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a nursing facility in suburban Columbus, Ohio, that is under water restrictions.

According to a local family, however, the facility accepted a new patient without disclosing the outbreak.

The Arlington Court Skilled Nursing and Rehab Center, which is about 6 miles northwest of downtown Columbus in Upper Arlington, has recorded three cases of Legionnaires’ disease since last October, according to Mitzi Kline, Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) director of communication.

Two cases were reported last month, and the first occurred last October. No additional information on the patients was released.

Arlington Court, located at 1605 NW Professional Plaza, is a 125-bed skilled nursing facility serving the area for more than 30 years.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: puzzling findings

According to officials, results from water testing uncovered non-pneumophila, a type of Legionella bacteria not typically known to cause Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease – a type of bacterial pneumonia that is also known as legionellosis or Legionella pneumonia – is a respiratory illness that is contracted when people inhale microscopic aerosolized water droplets (vapor or mist), such as those formed by misting stations or large air conditioners.

Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1 is the most virulent (i.e., harmful) strain causing the majority of infections. Non-pneumophila species are normally considered nonpathogenic or incapable of causing disease.

“The non-pneumophila type is found commonly in water and soil and is not the type to normally cause illness,” said James Muckle, vice-president of operations for Vrable Healthcare Companies (VHC), the parent company of Arlington Court.

VHC said company officials are working closely with FCPH to investigate the matter.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: tests positive

Muckle noted that the bacteria was found in patient urine samples; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “if the patient has pneumonia and the test is positive, then you should consider the patient to have Legionnaires’ disease.”

Arlington Court implemented water restrictions Feb. 10 that included the installation of filters in showers, bathrooms, ice machines, in the kitchen and visitor areas throughout the facility.

“I believe they are doing business as usual,” Kline told Columbus’ NBC4 News. “As long as they can operate with showers and they are providing bottled water, we have not limited their business at all other than water restrictions.”

Upper Arlington nursing facility: uninformed check-in

Bette Kessler, 90, checked into the facility Friday suffering from flu symptoms, according to Kim Kessler, Bette’s daughter. Kim Kessler told ABC 6/Fox 28 that she was unable to safely care for her mother at home, so a hospice care company arranged a five-day “respite stay” at Arlington Court.

Kessler said she did not realize there were issues at the facility until Sunday morning, when Bette’s sink wouldn’t work. A hospice aide was told the sinks had been shut off, but communal showers fit with special filters could provide water, and bottled water was available by request.

Kim Kessler said the aide was not told why filters had been installed or sinks shut off. Kessler said she learned Sunday morning during a phone call with the facility’s director that the restrictions were in place due to a Legionella issue.

“If they would have told us that (before or during check-in), we would have said, ‘OK, thanks but no thanks, we’ll move on to the next one,’ but they didn’t even give us the option of making the decision,” Kim Kessler told NBC4 News.

Muckle wrote: “The facility has been transparent with our residents and families during this period of time. Letters were mailed out and posted in the facility by Feb. 11. These initial notices and further updates have remained prominently displayed in the facility.”

Kessler is working with the hospice care company to relocate her mother to another facility.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: patients at 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.”

Almost all of the patients at Arlington Court fit one or more of the criteria of someone who is very susceptible to infection. To wit:

  • 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.

In the most severe LD cases, complications can include respiratory failure, kidney failure, septic shock, or even death.

Upper Arlington nursing facility: symptoms

Patients, employees, or recent visitors to Arlington Court should seek care from their health-care provider if they are feeling flu- or pneumonia-like symptoms, such as:

  • 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.