Administrator: Safeguards in place, no Legionella cases at WashCo Health Center

April 19, 2013
Washington County's Courthouse Square office building

Washington County Health Center administrator Tim Kimmel reported at the county commissioners’ agenda meeting Wednesday there are no cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the 288-bed facility in Chartiers Township.

“Legionnaires’ disease comes from stagnant water. Our cooling tower is treated automatically, our steam boiler is 212 degrees, which is beyond the threshold of Legionnaires’ disease, and our three hot water tanks are routinely drained,” Kimmel said.

“Everything looks good for us, and we will continue to monitor it.”

The Legionella bacteria can cause a type of pneumonia called legionellosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, Legionnaires’ disease is usually treated successfully with antibiotics, but it can sometimes be fatal. The health center’s medical director has not seen a need to ask for a specific test for Legionnaires’ disease in patients, which is done by culturing phlegm or testing urine, Kimmel said.

Scott Fergus, Washington County director of administration, said, “We’ve never had a case of Legionnaires’ disease, and we’ve done everything that we can to prevent it.”

Kimmel said after the meeting, “It’s just not an issue. It may have been an issue in Allegheny County for the VA hospitals, but it certainly isn’t an issue for us. There is no one with a confirmed diagnosis in our building that we wouldn’t know about.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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