Heartland Healthcare Center provides update on Legionella case

FLUSHING — Earlier this month, Heartland Health Care Center- Fostrian in Flushing held a town hall meeting to update its employees, patients and their families on the facility’s efforts to eliminate any trace of Legionella bacteria at the center.

Around three months ago, two patients at the skilled nursing facility tested positive for Legionnaires disease, and Legionella was also discovered in the center’s water system. In response, Heartland began conducting regular water tests and receiving guidance from the Genesee County Health Department to contain the spread of the bacteria.

During the town hall meeting, representatives from the Genesee County Health Department said that they could not confirm whether the two identified patients contracted Legionnaires disease while staying at Heartland Healthcare because the individuals were not Heartland residents during their entire incubation period.

However, county health officials did confirm that there are no other Legionnaires cases in the county that have any possible relation to Heartland.

Heartland spokesperson Julie Beckert also said in a statement that patients showing any potential symptoms of Legionella have all been tested, with no cases being confirmed.

In addition to using bottled water, the center has also had its water system disinfected with high doses of chlorination and has installed medicalgrade filters on all of its showers. Beckert said that recent waters tests have also yielded positive results.

“Heartland has had the water tested and the Health Department is pleased with the center’s quick response in taking all precautionary steps to ensure patient, visitor and employee safety,” she said. “(After chlorination), the follow up water samples show that our response is working to reduce risks.”

Beckert said that Heartland will continue to test its water at increased frequency until there is no trace of bacteria, per the requirements of the center’s Water Management Plan (WMP).

Heartland is also installing secondary disinfection equipment that will continuously treat all water coming in from the public water supply to disinfect and reduce any potential pathogens from entering the center’s water system.

The Karegnondi water treatment plant, which services Heartland, has continued to provide water that is flocculated, conditioned and chlorinated. Regular chlorine treatments, as administered by the Genesee County Water Commissioner Water and Waste Services (GCDCWWS), are critical to helping fight off bacteria in the water.

Significant water testing is also done across the county every month by the GCDC-WWS.

Thus far, there have been 28 confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease in Genesee County in 2019. Facilities at risk for Legionella growth are typically large buildings with complex water systems, such as hospitals and nursing facilities. Hot tubs and cooling towers are also potential sources for the bacteria.

Further information regarding Legionnaires is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/legionella and on the Genesee County Health Department website at www.gchd.us.