Last Wednesday, officials with the Illinois’ Department of Human Services made a statement that a patient at the Chester Mental Health Center, a mental health facility in southern Illinois, had tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease. In the statement, the officials also said that the patient from the mental health facility was being treated and is in stable condition.
In response to the incident, the Chester Mental Health Center stated that it would be working with the Illinois’ Department of Public Health to find the source of the bacteria and maintain extensive monitoring other patients.
In a news release earlier this week from State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, it was stated that the water was turned off to a portion of the facility in order to try and prevent additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease. In an email sent out last Friday, the director of communications at the Illinois Department of Human Services, Meghan Powers, said officials “are waiting for results for our cultures test and will decide the best course of action once we receive those results,”. Powers did not, however, answer any questions regarding how long the tests would take or when water might be turned back on to that wing portion of the Chester Mental Health Center.
Clearly more information will become available as the investigation continues and as a first step, they get the test results back. Yet the recent set of stories involving state run facilities in Illinois and positive tests of Legionnaires disease has been disconcerting. Hopefully all of these incidents will push legislators if not commercial and/or residential building owners to take water distribution systems seriously as a risk concern and as such, to develop routines and procedures to help ensure that Legionella bacteria never has a chance to form in the first place.
Jules Zacher is an attorney in Philadelphia who has tried Legionnaires’ disease cases across the U.S. Please visit LegionnaireLawyer.com again for updates.