A resident at Horizon Health & Subacute Center, a 180-bed nursing home in Northeast Fresno, California, has been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a dangerous form of pneumonia that is often deadly when it strikes within acute care and senior living environments. Horizon Health & Subacute Center is located on East Herndon Avenue.
According to news media sources, the Fresno County Public Health Department has reported that it was notified on December 27th of the patient’s diagnosis. Dr. Ken Bird, the county’s Public Health Officer, states that after this notification the facility initiated water restrictions in order to prevent other patients from catching Legionnaires’ disease.
Horizon Healthcare administrator Stepan Sarmazian has released the following statement:
“All of our residents are safe; they’re well. We’ve had no new documented cases. None of our family members or employees are ill. Everyone is safe.” (1)
Residents in healthcare, hospital, and elder care environments are susceptible to catching Legionnaires’ disease if Legionella pneumonia bacteria populates poorly maintained water systems. When the bacteria is inhaled or aspirated by patients, it can cause non-contagious (but highly dangerous) pneumonia symptoms. Susceptible individuals include the elderly (older than 50), smokers, people with COPD and other respiratory conditions, those with compromised immune systems, or individuals with cancer, diabetes, or HIV.
The Increasing Public Awareness of Legionnaires’ Disease
Although public awareness of the dangers of Legionnaires’ disease, also called legionellosis, has increased significantly over the last two years (propelled to attention by fatal, high-profile outbreaks at medical centers across the nation), many healthcare facilities have been slow to initiate the stringent recommended testing and remediation procedures than would ensure their adequate control of potential Legionella proliferation and disease outbreaks.
Sensitive to the increased rates of Legionnaires’ disease reported by the CDC, Dr. Bird sent an advisory to his region’s healthcare institutions in October 2016 warning of the dangers of the illness. This was followed by recommendations in November that patients with underlying risk factors who were either current patients or were admitted to healthcare facilities with pneumonia symptoms should be tested for Legionnaires’ disease.
You may be able to sue a nursing home for Legionnaires’ Disease if there is evidence connecting the pneumonia to the water system at the facility. Both epidemiologic and microbiologic evidence is used, including DNA “fingerprinting” of Legionella isolates to see if isolates from patients and from water samples match.
Contact our law firm about a Legionnaires’ disease lawsuit for compensation.
Our legal team at Pritzker Hageman law firm has successfully worked to secure the rights of victims of deadly Legionnaires’ Disease outbreaks at senior residential facilities including the Veteran’s Residence in Quincy, Illinois – a 2015 outbreak that sickened 54 residents and employees, ultimately claiming 12 lives.
A lawsuit against a senior living can involve complex medical and legal issues. We recommend you contact a lawyer to help you understand and protect your legal rights.
News Source: Anderson, Barbara. “Legionnaires’ disease diagnosed in Fresno nursing home patient.” The Fresno Bee. 13 Jan. 2017.