Sick with Legionnaires?
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Elliot Olsen is a nationally known Legionnaires lawyer who has regained millions for clients. If you or a family member contracted Legionnaires while a patient at a Brooklyn hospital, you might have reason to file a Legionnaires lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.
Water restrictions that were implemented after two patients became ill with Legionnaires’ disease at a Brooklyn hospital are being enforced months later – and there does not appear to be an end in sight.
Soon after the illnesses were revealed in November and December, tests showed Legionella bacteria in the water system at New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital (506 Sixth Street). Officials subsequently required the use of body wipes instead of showers for patients, and bottled water was supplied to patients, staff, and visitors.
Water tests conducted in December were positive for Legionella in certain inpatient units, and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) was enlisted to assist with the investigation.
The two cases of Legionnaires’ disease are still under investigation by state health officials, although no further information was released about the patients.
Large buildings a problem
Legionella bacteria are found naturally in freshwater environments but can become a health concern when they grow and spread in human-made water systems, such as:
- large plumbing systems
- bathroom showers and sinks
- hot water heaters and tanks
- hot tubs, especially those that are not drained after each use
- decorative fountains and similar water features.
- cooling towers, which are structures that contain water and a fan as part of centralized air cooling systems large buildings.
“The water supply of many large buildings and hospitals often contains small amounts of Legionella bacteria, and most people who are exposed to Legionella will not become ill,” a hospital spokesperson said in December. “If Legionella does cause an infection, it is treatable with antibiotics and does not generally pose a threat to the public.”
Patients told Patch.com that they are frustrated by the water restrictions.
“No brushing teeth, washing face, or showering — even hand washing is discouraged,” said Rebecca Lentjes, who is an inpatient at the hospital receiving treatment for migraines. “It’s frustrating because … once I finally got moved from the ER upstairs to a bed, all I wanted to do was wash up — but then I found out I wouldn’t be able to.”
Lentjes said she tried to wash her hair with bottled water but found it too difficult with an IV attached to her arm.
A spokesperson told Patch.com that the hospital has “taken steps to disinfect” the water, reiterating the statement officials made in December when they said, “We work with the state and city departments of health to maintain a clean water supply and have already taken steps to disinfect our water sources.”
Not the only one
The restrictions can be lifted once more testing of the water is completed after remediation efforts, NYSDH spokesperson Jill Montag said.
New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital is not the only Brooklyn hospital dealing with Legionella. SUNY Downstate’s University Hospital of Brooklyn, which is less than three miles away, showed elevated levels of Legionella in late January. Remediation efforts and water restrictions have been in place since those test results.
Could be avoided, says CDC
Legionnaires’ disease is a severe type of pneumonia or lung infection caused by Legionella, which is contracted by inhaling microscopic water droplets (vapor or mist). That is why the hospital is restricting the use of showers and sinks.
A 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed 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 or older – especially those who smoke, have a chronic lung condition or COPD – are at a higher risk. Others more susceptible to infection include:
- people with weakened immune systems
- organ-transplant recipients
- people on a specific drug protocol (such as corticosteroids)
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are similar to those of other types of pneumonia and can even resemble those of flu, including
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by Legionnaires’ disease. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: