DC hospital goes 1 week without running water amid Legionnaires' threat

Gabrielle Masson - Print  | 

Washington, D.C.-based St. Elizabeths Hospital has been without safe water for more than seven days after the discovery of bacterial contamination that could cause Legionnaires' disease, according to The Washington Post.

During routine water testing, both Pseudomonas and Legionella bacteria were found Sept. 26, forcing the facility shut off all water. The hospital's patients and staff are currently using bottled water, hand sanitizer and portable showers. As of Oct. 3, none of the state-run facility's 273 patients have symptoms of Legionnaires' disease. 

"As with any water outage, infectious disease control staff are monitoring closely to address any potential infection risks," Phyllis Jones, chief of staff of the district's Department of Behavioral Health, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Patients are "very distressed" by the situation, especially with flu season approaching, according to Andrea Procaccino, an attorney at the patient advocacy group Disability Rights DC.

"If you're not able to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or there's no running water, it makes it hard to have proper hygiene and sanitation," she told The Washington Post. "People haven't taken showers in four or five days."

This story was updated Oct. 7 as new developments were reported; read the latest here

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