Schenectady nursing home tests positive for legionella

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Another local nursing home is looking at water treatment systems after it found legionella bacteria in its water. The Kingsway Community in Schenectady says they results came back after routine testing that is mandated by the state.

The center says they flushed pipes with scalding hot water to kill any of the bacteria. That’s why the New York State Department of Health hasn’t required a water restriction plan, but the facility says they want to let families know they are taking this seriously.

It was the day before Thanksgiving when Mark Olsen received the news. More than 30 percent of water samples taken from the Kingsway Nursing Home in Schenectady came back positive for non-pneumonic legionella bacteria.

“That’s not the strain that is generally associated with contracting legionnaires’ disease,” Olsen said.

With what’s been happening elsewhere in the state, the facility took action that day by immediately flushing their system and running water at 160 degrees. That kills off the bacteria momentarily while the center plans for the long-term solution which could take a couple of weeks.

“It was a long day,” Olsen said. “My maintenance staff did a terrific job. They made sure it was done safely and effectively. That’s always been our priority: To make sure that our employees and residents, staff, and families remain safe and we provide a safe environment.”

To date, Kingsway has not had any cases of legionnaire’s disease but there are more than 30 strains of the bacteria. The most aggressive case is causing outbreaks like the one in Saratoga Springs where the state health department is still trying to determine the source for seven cases.

Over the phone, Daryn Cline from the Alliance to Prevent Legionnaires Disease, says their organization strongly believes testing should be required beyond health care facilities.

“Test it in the water mains before it gets into the building,” Cline said. “That’s what they should be doing and that’s what we are proposing as solutions.”

That’s because Cline says construction or repair work could trigger contamination.

“You have a guy using a jackhammer and if there’s a water main, it’s going to shake all the biofilm lose and that’s were legionella bacteria live, in this biofilm in the pipe,” Cline said.

Kingsway says they will decide on a long-term solution within the next couple of weeks. To date, the center has had no cases of legionnaire’s disease.

The New York State DOH released the following statement:

Several different species of Legionella can cause Legionnaires’ disease (i.e. pneumonia). The species of Legionella bacteria found in the Kingsway Nursing Home water are not the ones typically associated with Legionnaire’s Disease but can be associated with pneumonia or other illness. The new Regulation requires Nursing Homes to test their potable water and report results if more than 30% of the locations sampled are positive for any Legionella and take corrective action. Kingsway Nursing Home has followed the regulation and is taking proactive steps to eliminate potential exposures to its residents. The facility has not had any reported cases of Legionnaire’s disease.

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