Apr
23
2014
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A Marine veteran contracted Legionnaires’ disease while receiving treatment for lung cancer at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Hospital.  Brant James Evans, 58, eventually died on Jan. 30, 2013, and now his widow, Cheryl Anne Evans, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Pittsburgh VA.

Mr. Evans was receiving chemotherapy and radiation for his lung cancer in the summer of 2011.  He was admitted to the Pittsburgh VA on Sept. 26, 2011 and was later diagnosed as having Legionnaires disease.

Mr. Evans recovered from the pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, but according to the lawsuit, the illness complicated his struggle with lung cancer.

So far, the VA has settled at least five claims by veterans or survivors regarding the outbreak that occurred between February 2011 and November 2012.

To read more about this story, please click here.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:58 am
Apr
22
2014
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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

A memo, obtained by Pittsburgh’s Action News 4, surfaced in mid-March showing that the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System knew of the threat of Legionella bacteria at their facilities.

In the memo, dated in September 2011, a top physician at the VA Pittsburgh expressed his concerns about the bacteria and advised his staff to give bottled water to high-risk patients.

The public, however, was not notified of the situation until November 2012.  The bacteria presence eventually led to the deaths of at least six veterans and the illness of many others.

Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who took part in the congressional investigation of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, said “if the committee wasn’t investigating this and the media weren’t investigating this, I’m not sure anybody would know, so I want the VA to do its work.  I want them to come clean.  I want them to tell people.  We need to have trust in our VA system for our veterans.”

To read more about this story, please click here.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:06 am
Apr
18
2014
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IU Health Flag

Jules Zacher was recently retained to represent one of the victims of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at IU Health University Hospital in Indianapolis, IN.   He was also retained for three cases involving the outbreak at the Integrated Health Campus in Allentown, PA that sickened at least 8 patients or visitors of the health facility.

Jules Zacher is an attorney at law who has been practicing for over 35 years.  He is known across the country for his experience with Legionnaires’ disease cases and has been recommended numerous times by both clients and other attorneys.

He has had success representing victims of Legionnaires’ disease in federal and state courts across the country and is currently working on numerous cases in Hawaii, California, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:39 am
Apr
17
2014
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hyatt-reg-palm-springs-overview

A San Jose couple, Nancy and Bill Whitney, visiting Palm Springs as a potential retirement location ended up contracting Legionnaires’ disease while staying at the Hyatt Regency Suites in Palm Springs.  They were at the hotel for three nights in October 2011 and then began to feel ill upon their return to the Bay Area.

Nancy Whitney said “We had headaches and our stomach wasn’t feeling good.  It just felt like the flu.”  She improved, but her husband of 30 years got worse and she had to take him to Washington Hospital in Fremont, Calif.

“They asked us where we had been, if we had been on any trips, had been to warm weather where there was air conditioning,” said Mrs. Whitney.  Tests results confirmed that he had Legionnaires’ disease.

Just five days after his hospital admittance, Bill Whitney passed away.

His widow, Nancy, learned that the Hyatt hotel that they stayed at was only about 50 yards from the hotel’s cooling towers, a known source for contracting Legionnaires’ disease.  These cooling towers were positive for Legionella bacteria.  As a result of these findings, she is now seeking legal help.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:03 am
Apr
15
2014
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VA Pittsburgh logo

Water systems at the Veterans Affairs hospitals in Oakland and O’Hara in the Pittsburgh area were closed on Sunday and Monday this week to install chlorine injectors to the cold water lines.

According to a VA spokesman, due to stricter guidelines, the Oakland hospital was also hyperchlorinated to eliminate a strain of Legionella that doesn’t cause illness.  These stricter guidelines came about after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred at the VA Pittsburgh between February 2011 and November 2012 which led to the deaths of six veterans and sickened many others.

The chlorine injectors are expected to allow the hospitals to maintain appropriate levels of disinfectant in the water system and minimize pipe damage at the same time.

 

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 12:06 pm
Apr
08
2014
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 Legionella Control International

Legionella Control International, a company based in the UK, has recently released new Legionella risk management software called LegionellaSafe.  This new software system acts as an electronic logbook that will allow those in charge of facilities to more easily comply with regulations and safety performance.

LegionellaSafe eliminates paper filing while also making the entire monitoring process more manageable and streamlined.

“Our brand new LegionellaSafe system offers state-of-the-art risk management software for the control of Legionella,” said Jamie Tranter, General Manager at Legionella Control International.  “It offers best in class peace of mind to duty holders, health and safety professionals, facilities managers, and other stake holders who need to take full control of Legionella risk management systems while demanding intelligent, real-time reporting software.”

One of LegionellaSafe’s notable features is its ability to use data entered into the system to immediately identify a number of issues including areas of increased risk, negative trends, non-compliance issues, track defects, and appropriate remedial actions.  This software has the potential to allow managers to more effectively monitor a facility’s safety.

To read more about this story, please click here.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 12:44 pm
Apr
07
2014
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VA Pittsburgh logo

Families of VA Pittsburgh patients who had contracted Legionnaires’ disease are relieved that a settlement has been reached in the lawsuit against the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.  They remain frustrated, however, that VA personnel will not be held accountable for the outbreak which included at least 22 illnesses and 6 deaths.

“I’m relieved it’s over, but it’s not nearly what they deserved,” said Debbie Balawejder whose father was 85-year-old Frank “Sonny” Calcagno, who died Nov. 22, 2011 due to Legionnaires’ disease.

“To me, what they did was criminal,” Balawejder continued.  “They’re never going to pay the way they should for what they did.”

U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus agreed that “these settlements have nothing to do with holding the individuals responsible for [the veterans’] deaths accountable.”

Rep Rothfus also said that there are still “questions that the VA must answer.”

Multiple other members of congress have been involved in this Veterans Affairs situation, including Reps. Tom Murphy and Mike Doyle, and Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey.

To read more about this story, please click here.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:23 am
Apr
04
2014
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Illinois VA

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest federal employee union, is pressing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take a closer look at reports regarding the finding of Legionella bacteria at the Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Affairs Hospital in Illinois.

On Feb. 28 of this year, AFGE sent a letter to Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, requesting that OSHA investigate further and ensure that procedures have been set for regular testing and remediation protocol are ready if necessary.

“AFGE wants proper testing and effective remediation for the safety of our members and the veterans we serve,” said David Cox Sr., the AFGE National President.  “If the VA is to stand by its delivery of world-class care, it must be diligent in maintaining its facilities and protecting those who are treated and work in its hospitals and other sites.”

 

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 11:00 am
Apr
03
2014
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Holy Name Care Home UK

The owner of the Holy Name Care Home in Hull, a city in England, was fined £2,500 (approximately $4,150 US dollars) by a “health watchdog” after Legionella bacteria were found in the property’s water system.

Further, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) issued two penalties of £1,250 to Molescroft Nursing Home (Holdings) Ltd, the owner of Holy Name Care Home, after the company neglected to report the positive Legionella test result or the suspension of their manager.

Routing water testing was performed on September 23, 2013 and five of nine water samples taken were positive for Legionella bacteria.

Molescroft Nursing Home (Holdings) Ltd took appropriate measures to protect their residents’ safety upon the finding, but failed to report the situation, which is required by the Health and Social Care Act.

According to Malcolm Bower-Brown, CQC regional director, said that Molescroft Nursing Home (Holdings) Ltd has paid its fines and the CQC will continue to monitor the home.

Molescroft Nursing Home (Holdings) Ltd also issued a statement saying that “Holy Name is a new care home and, at the relevant time, some unoccupied areas had not all been fully commissioned, which led to some routine tests for Legionella coming back positive.

“The tests were conducted as a proactive measure and were carried out by a professional third-party company upon the home’s request.

“The system was professionally chlorinated at the earliest possibility in order to kill any traces of the disease, which is the appropriate measure to undertake.

“Health and safety at the home is taken very seriously and areas are regularly monitored and cleaned as required within the home’s cleaning schedule.”

The statement goes on to say that the low fine reflected the fact that there were no illnesses at the facility and that the home was responsible in regards to testing and remediating upon bacterial discovery.

The CQC also released a statement regarding the matter and touches on the importance of notifying the CQC in situations such as these.  To read the statement, please click here.

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:55 am
Apr
02
2014
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An article examining the serious long-term health consequences of Legionnaires’ disease was published in the Journal of Infection in late January of this year.  The study also looked at health consequences of Q-fever, which causes symptoms similar to Legionnaires disease.

Some of the overlapping symptoms between Legionnaires’ disease and Q-fever include:

  • High fevers
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Non-productive cough
  • Chest pain

The study concludes that “Many Q-fever patients and patients with Legionnaires’ disease suffer from a severely affected health status on one or more subdomains at one year after onset of illness.”  They go on to recommend that a large proportion of the patient population that develops either illness receive additional support during the first year after they become ill.

 

Posted by jzacher">jzacher at 10:23 am