State pressures McLaren-Flint over Legionnaires' disease, hospital disagrees

Published: Apr. 11, 2019 at 12:30 PM EDT
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(4/11/2019) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is looking into two cases of "possible hospital-associated Legionnaire's disease" at McLaren-Flint hospital.

But the hospital vehemently disagrees with the state's findings and says other sources of the illness have not been ruled out.

Other than those patients having received care in the hospital, McLaren maintains that there is nothing that directly connects those cases to McLaren-Flint.

The state called out the hospital as a possible source for these newly reported cases of Legionnaires', which is a form of pneumonia caused by the legionella bacteria. The bacteria occurs naturally in water and proliferates in warm, enclosed environments.

McLaren has been locked in a dispute with the state since the deadly Legionaires' disease outbreak of 2014 to 2015 during the Flint water crisis. Both sides differ on the situation.

In a letter to Chad Grant, CEO of McLaren-Flint hospital, the state says "review of water testing results demonstrated anomalies," including the presence of legionella bacteria "in the performance of secondary treatment systems" at the hospital.

The state also flagged "issues with facility monitoring procedures."

Citing state laws, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has ordered the hospital to provide a water management plan and monitoring schedule, as well as the hospital's response to positive cases of Legionnaires' disease.

Grant responded with a letter saying that despite a Feb. 21 meeting where re-engaging in a collaborative and cooperative process for a new public health assurance agreement was the intent, the actions since then indicate to McLaren-Flint that there is no room for collaboration.

Grant's letter goes on to say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Genesee County Health Department representatives expressed satisfaction with McLaren's approach when the state's team studied the water program in February and March of this year.

Regarding the order to provide current and future information, McLaren says the law does not authorize state regulators to order those actions but to only collect existing data.

McLaren still listed responses to the state's request and state officials currently are reviewing it.