Mount Carmel Grove City, a brand-new hospital which opened in April 2019 in Grove City, Ohio, is recovering from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease which sickened 16, possibly caused one death, and generated two lawsuits. The 200-bed hospital celebrated its grand opening on April 28th, and one of the first patients admitted to the hospital the next day was the first patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’.
The Mount Carmel Hospital System announced that the source of the Legionella contamination was the facility’s hot water system, which was not properly disinfected prior to the hospital’s opening according to 10TV WBNS. The Franklin County Public Health Department reports that the exposure occurred between April 27 and May 31. The health department is looking to identify the source of the bacteria.
In a statement, Mount Carmel Grove City President Sean McKibben said, “On Friday, May 31, we notified the public that individuals were diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease after being at Mount Carmel Grove City. Along with local health officials, we brought in Tim Keane, an internationally known legionella expert, and immediately began steps to protect patients, staff and visitors. Today, measures are in place to ensure that water is safe, and we want to share what we know at this point about the source of bacteria, background on timing and what we are doing.” McKibben went on to say that the hospital is “implementing a long-term solution to ensure that legionella is effectively controlled and that this does not happen again.”
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
The Franklin County Public Health Department describes Legionnaires’ disease as a severe form of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium. The bacteria are often associated with large or complex water systems found in hospitals, nursing homes and hotels. You cannot catch Legionnaires disease form another person, but you can get it by inhaling water droplets that contain Legionella from sources such as hot tubs or showers.
The first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred at an American Legion Convention in Philadelphia in 1976, according to Cincinnati.com, which also reports that there have already been three Legionnaires’ outbreaks in the U.S. in the first three months of 2019.
The symptoms of Legionnaires disease include:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
The health department is urging anyone who worked at or visited Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital to watch for symptoms. If you have symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
The Legionnaires’ outbreak
The Franklin County Health Department is working with the Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital, the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the Legionnaire’s outbreak, the source of which is still unknown.
There were 16 cases in all: nine females and seven males. Fourteen of those stricken with the disease were hospitalized. There was one fatality of a person who was diagnosed with Legionnaires’, but the official cause of death has not yet been determined.
The two lawsuits thus far from the Legionnaires’ outbreak
According to WOSU Public Media, a man who contracted Legionnaires’ disease at Mount Carmel Grove City filed a lawsuit. Martin Brown was one of the first patients to be admitted to the new hospital where he had heart surgery, stayed for ten days and then returned home. Mr. Martin started feeling ill. He had a serious case of pneumonia and, and his doctor diagnosed him with Legionnaires’.
The family of Deanna Rezez, who was 75 years old when she died after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Per a story on 10TV, Rezez was admitted to Mount Carmel Grove City on May 18 for pulmonary hypertension. She returned home two days later but began experiencing flu-like symptoms. She was brought back to the hospital, but never made it back home.
Ohio hospital negligence
Hospitals owe a duty of care to their patients and staff to provide a safe environment to receive healthcare and to work. When a patient suffers an injury or dies because of hospital negligence, the injured person may have grounds for a hospital negligence lawsuit, and the family of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Hospital negligence occurs when the hospital breaches the accepted standard of care, when a patient is injured because of the breach, and the patient has suffered damages because of the injury such as increased medical expenses, lost time at work, pain and suffering and other losses.
In the case of Mount Carmel Grove City, the hospital administrators admitted that the water systems, which appears to be the origin of the Legionnaires’ contamination, had not been disinfected since February, which was the original date for the hospital’s grand opening. The opening was delayed until the end of April because of construction delays.
For its part, the Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital has installed a permanent supplemental water disinfection system including 24/7 monitoring and controls which continuously adds chloramine to the water supply, and updated protocol which flushes every patient room daily. The hospital has also enhanced safety measures, disinfected and cleaned the cooling tower and upgraded their disinfection controller according to 10TV news.
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