Fifth lawsuit filed over legionella outbreak at Mount Carmel Grove City


COLUMBUS (WBNS) – A fifth lawsuit has been filed against Mount Carmel Grove City following an outbreak of legionella bacteria that is being attributed to the death of one patient and sickened more than a dozen people.

The latest lawsuit filed in Franklin County Tuesday, alleges that on or about May 13, 2019, Ronald Biegler was admitted to Mount Carmel Grove City for several days for testing.

“After being released, he became seriously ill multiple symptoms, including a high fever, severe cough, shortness of breath and headaches, which caused him to the hospital and be re-admitted. On or about May 27, 2019, Riegler was informed by his treating physician that he had been infected with Legionnaire’s disease…” the lawsuit states.

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This is the fifith lawsuit filed following the outbreak at the newly constructed hospital opened in April.

Mount Carmel administrators told 10 Investigates during their only television interview in June that “inadequate disinfecting” of its own water system may have contributed to the outbreak. The likely source: the hospital’s hot water supply.

“Could things have been done better, absolutely,” said Tim Keane, a Legionella remediation expert hired by Mount Carmel Health System.

Keane said during a June interview that the hospital could have disinfected its water supply again before opening the newly constructed facility in April.

Construction issues delayed the hospital from opening in February and Mount Carmel Grove City President Sean McKibben told 10 Investigates during that interview that the water systems on certain floors that were disinfected in February were not re-cleaned in April prior to opening.

The hospital also did not test for Legionella prior to opening.

Doing so is not required by federal regulators, but Keane recommends it for all hospitals.

The hospital has since flushed its system, installed a permanent supplemental disinfection system and is working with state and local health departments to test and re-test the water supply every two weeks. It has also installed filters and as of June 13 said it believes its water is now safe.

The hospital says it first learned of confirmed cases of Legionnaires' disease on May 15 and alerted health officials the next day. When asked by 10 Investigates if it could have notified the public sooner than May 31, hospital administrators said they could not have because they weren’t certain the earliest cases were linked nor did they know at the time that the source was coming from inside the hospital.

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