Local hospital at odds with state health department - WNEM TV 5

Local hospital at odds with state health department

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM

A major local hospital is at odds with the state health department, with both sides pointing the finger at the other over the handling of Legionnaires' cases that caused several deaths and even more illnesses.

McLaren Flint Hospital took legal action against the DHHS on Thursday, filing a request with the state court of appeals asking the court to keep DHHS away from the hospital while the attorney general's criminal investigation continues.

Three current or former DHHS employees are facing criminal charges for their alleged roles in Flint's water crisis.

According to the Detroit News, McLaren's attorneys say the hospital was a victim of numerous crimes and cover-ups by state employees, including workers from DHHS since a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that started in 2014.

The year Flint changed its water source to the Flint river.

TV5 reached out to both the DHHS and McLaren Flint Hospital for on camera interviews. Both denied our request but they did release statements.

The following is a statement from MDHHS:

“MDHHS could not disagree more strongly with McLaren’s accusations about the department’s employees. As MDHHS noted in its request for action by the Michigan Court of Appeals, McLaren hospital used the protective order to prevent MDHHS from ensuring that proper remediation and patient protection had occurred after a recent case at McLaren was identified. Fifty-one of the 90 cases of legionella identified in Genesee County in the 2014-2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak meet the CDC definition of a healthcare-associated infection. Fifty of the 51 cases were associated with McLaren. It is unacceptable for a local hospital to take any action that potentially threatens the public health and that a public health department would be barred from investigating such activity.”

McLaren fired back saying:

"Five of the seven cases of Legionnaires’ reported in Genesee County have no connection to McLaren Flint. Two of the seven patients who have been identified in Genesee County as having Legionnaires’ in 2016 received care at McLaren Flint. Both patients came to our facility with symptoms of active illness. One patient visited our hospital after receiving care at another local healthcare facility. Neither case is or can be definitively linked to McLaren Flint. In compliance with the regulations guiding all hospitals in Michigan, we reported both cases to the County Health Department. 

The Genesee County Health Department, in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control, has diligently reviewed the water management program at McLaren Flint.  This review was done without any of the outside political forces now controlling decision-making at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The preliminary opinion of the investigators is that the program at McLaren is protecting the public.

Since the 2014 change of the source of water in the City of Flint, McLaren has been aggressive in monitoring and treating the water we purchase from the City of Flint to insure that it does not pose a potential hazard to our patients, visitors, and staff." 

While the legal battles continue, residents still can’t drink water straight from the tap and they said they’re fed up.

“It's like we're still at ground zero. Yes. we're thankful for the water bottle. We're thankful for the food. Yet all this money, over $200 million, has come into the city and yet our pipes are not fixed,” Yolanda Figueroa said.

Right now, we don't know when the state court of appeals will make a decision regarding the conflict between McLaren Flint and the DHHS.

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