After months of complaints about potentially dangerous bacteria lurking in one of the most prominent medical institutions in Washington, the state conducted an investigation and proceeded with Legionella treatment at the University of Washington Medical Center.
Sarah Bright with the Washington Federation of State Employees helped file a health hazard complaint against the medical center when hospital staff and patients were not told about the bacteria’s existence in a cooling tower at the main hospital building.
“They’ve found green slime growing in one of the cooling towers,” said Bright.
Test results from early October showed that there were 180cfu/mL of Legionella bacteria in the cooling tower.
Jeff Duchin at the King County Department of Health indicated that the level of bacteria present was not enough to be a threat. However, union plumber rep, Puala Lukaszek, expressed concerns for the future and continued bacterial growth if hospital policies don’t change.
“There’s an issue from members that the university doesn’t put time and energy into preventative maintenance,” she said.
In its complaint to the state, the union claims that workers had access to the water cooling tower even after UW knew about the presence of Legionella bacteria.
UW has experienced problems with Legionella in the past as well and had positive tests for the bacteria in 2013 and 1998 in which there was an outbreak of at least three cases of Legionnaires’ disease and one death.
The investigation regarding the recent concern is ongoing and results are expected in May
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