Genesee County Health Department supervisor criticizes state's response to legionella concerns

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FLINT (WJRT) (11/07/2017) - State officials initially failed to help the Genesee County Health Department look into an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease, according to a supervisor.

Dr. Eden Wells

When the state finally came, their attitude was less than helpful, said Environmental Health Supervisor James Henry.

He testified Tuesday during the second day of a preliminary hearing for Dr. Eden Wells, who was the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services when the Legionnaire's outbreak occurred in 2014 and 2015.

The illness was blamed for 12 deaths and infecting dozens of Flint residents after the switch from receiving drinking water from Detroit to pumping it from the Flint River.

Specifically, Wells is charged with involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office and lying to investigators in the death of John Snyder, who died of Legionnaires' in 2015.

Henry told the judge Tuesday morning that Genesee County didn't have the specialists to investigate legionella contamination in Flint's water supply in 2014. He said when the county asked for help, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services initially came as "scrutiny" and "belittlement" of how Genesee County handled things.

Wells has said she took the top medical job with the state one month before Snyder's death, so there is no way she could have prevented it.

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