Michigan health officials order McLaren Flint Hospital to address Legionella issues

State health officials warned McLaren Flint (Mich.) Hospital on Tuesday for the second time in little more than month to provide evidence of efforts taken to reduce the amount of Legionella bacteria in the hospital's water supply, according to The Detroit News.

From 2014 to 2015, 91 cases of Legionnaires' disease were reported in Genesee County, Mich., after the county switched its main water source to the Flint River. According to the state health department, McLaren Flint Hospital was associated with 21 Legionella cases in 2014, 29 cases in 2015 and two cases in 2016. The health department also says the hospital was associated with 45 of 46 inpatient healthcare-associated Legionnaires' disease cases during the Flint water crisis.

The CDC made recommendations to Genesee County and McLaren Flint in October and November 2016 on how to reduce Legionella in the water supply. On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon said, "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 CDC recommendations made in October and November 2016."

McLaren Flint is reportedly reviewing the state's order and plans to be fully responsive, according to a statement from the hospital emailed to Becker's Hospital Review.

According to the statement, the hospital has invested "hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and ongoing testing and treatment" of the water it gets from the city.

"In short, we have — and will continue to — do the right thing for our patients and community," the statement reads.

The hospital took some jabs at the states' handling of the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in its statement. "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," the hospital's statement reads.

"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."

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