Order issued against Mid-Michigan hospital to address Legionella - WNEM TV 5

Order issued against Mid-Michigan hospital to address Legionella risk

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued an order requiring McLaren Flint Hospital to immediately “correct conditions in its facility to reduce the risk of future exposure to Legionella at the hospital.”

“While we have attempted to work with McLaren Flint to address the ongoing health risk of healthcare-associated Legionella at its facility, we are issuing this Order today as a result of McLaren Flint’s insufficient response to our requests, as well as to request additional information regarding how they implemented the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations made in October and November 2016,” said MDHHS Director Nick Lyon.

MDHHS says that McLaren Flint was working with a company in 2014 to test their water system. The state department went on to say that a letter sent from that company to McLaren Flint on Dec. 23, 2014 indicated that a Legionella problem stemmed from a problem with the hospital’s water system, and not the City of Flint’s water supply.

In 2014, there were 21 Legionella cases associated with McLaren Flint. There were 29 cases in 2015, and 2 cases in 2016.

In late 2016 the CDC made recommendations to the Genesee County Health Department and McLaren Flint and today’s order from the MDHHS requires McLaren Flint to immediately comply with the following:

  • McLaren Flint will immediately implement all CDC recommendations contained in the CDC report initially released on October 7, 2016, and updated November 3, 2016;
  • McLaren Flint must immediately amend its Water Management Plan to reflect the CDC recommendations and update it at a reasonable interval to reflect new or changing recommendations;
  • A monitor will be appointed by the Department, at McLaren Flint’s expense, to oversee compliance with the Water Management Plan and this order;
  • MDHHS, with support from CDC, will conduct independent testing in parallel with McLaren Flint environmental sampling on an enhanced surveillance schedule;
  • McLaren Flint Hospital must provide MDHHS a comprehensive description of the testing plan and all corresponding test results to ensure that the monitoring and sampling recommendations have been implemented;
  • McLaren Flint Hospital will preserve isolates from all positive Legionella results from environmental testing in accordance with MDHHS, GCHD and CDC recommendations; and,
  • McLaren Flint Hospital must cooperate with all requests for information from the Department related to Legionella, its water system, its infection control protocols, its water management plan, and all requests for information related to the Legionella outbreaks at that facility in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The MDHHS claims that McLaren Flint hasn’t provided information that they have implemented the CDC’s recommendations.

McLaren Flint issued the following statement:

Our hospital received the State’s order just this afternoon and we are reviewing it now.  We have already provided much – it not all – of the information outlined in the order and plan to be fully responsive to the State’s request.

We appreciate that the State has statutory responsibilities to investigate any facility it believes poses a risk to patient or community health. The State had those same responsibilities in 2014 when we and other hospitals first began reporting increased numbers of Legionnaires’ Disease cases. It had those same responsibilities in 2015 and 2016 when Genesee County continued to experience “epidemic” levels of Legionnaires’.

Yet the State provided absolutely no support in 2014 and 2015. Now that criminal charges have been made against several State and City employees and additional indictments are possible, the State is taking an aggressive role in retroactively casting blame for cases it knew about – and did nothing about – for years.

Despite the fact that dozens of Legionnaires’ Disease cases have been reported in patients that have had absolutely no contact with our facilities, and despite the growing consensus among public health and infectious disease specialists that the City’s use of the Flint River as a water source is the prime contributor to our community’s Legionnaires’ Disease epidemic, the State refuses to broaden its perspective and hold itself and others accountable for the inaction of prior years.

Our hospital’s commitment to patient care and safety is absolutely unwavering. We have invested many hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and ongoing testing and treatment of the water we purchase from the City of Flint. We are proud of our water management plan – which was described by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs as a “national best practice.”

In short, we have – and will continue to – do the right thing for our patients and community.

We challenge the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to the same.

Read more on the order here.

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