On Friday, the Ohio Department of Health said that seven patients have been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease called Legionellosis, also called Legionnaires’ disease, at a newly opened hospital outside Columbus. The health department has ordered the hospital to immediately flush and disinfect its water lines and take other safety measures to protect the public’s health.
Ohio Public Health Officials said in a statement, “The first Mount Carmel Grove City patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’, a severe form of pneumonia, was admitted to the 200-bed hospital April 29, the day after it opened.”
The statement described the judgment order of the state’s Health Director Amy Acton as a rare event.
Also, the hospital has been ordered to test and clean all of its ice machines and on-site cooling towers. The health department has asked the hospital to provide all its test results and water management plan.
The statement said, “If Mount Carmel fails to follow Acton’s directives, she will order the hospital to stop accepting patients.”
On Friday, Mount Carmel spokeswoman Samantha Irons said in a statement, “The hospital is running additional tests on its water sources and that its water supply is receiving supplemental disinfection.”
She added that anyone who has been hospitalized at Mount Carmel and develops a cough, muscle pains, headaches, or shortness of breath should check with their primary care physician.
The CDC says people are infected with Legionnaires’ by inhaling airborne water droplets containing the Legionella bacteria. The website also says, “Cooling towers containing water and a fan as part of a centralized cooling system are a potential source for Legionella.” The CDC added, “While most healthy people are unaffected, those over 50, smokers and others with weakened immune systems and chronic lung disease are most at risk of being infected.”