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MDHHS Director pushing McLaren Flint on Legionnaires' issue

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
McLaren Hospital in Flint

Nick Lyon, head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has written a letter to McLaren Hospital in Flint, demanding it provide more information on efforts to respond to hospital-acquired Legionnaires' disease, a severe form of pneumonia.

A major outbreak of Legionnaires' was linked to McLaren Hospital in 2014 and 2015, and two more hospital-acquired cases occurred at the hospital in late 2016.

Lyon has sent a letter to McLaren demanding to know if the hospital has fully implemented all of the recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control, designed to help prevent new cases of Legionnaires'.

Lyon also quarrels with McLaren's continued statements that many other hospitals (in Michigan) have reported Legionnaires'. Lyon says these statements imply that McLaren is no different from other hospitals that reported Legionnaires'. From Lyon's letter:

This implication is factually inaccurate and epidemiologically unsound. There is a fundamental difference between diagnosing a Legionella case at a facility versus having a patient with a healthcare-associated Legionnella exposure during their incubation period. It is this difference that makes McLaren Flint unique among all hospitals in the state.

Lyon also wants to know if McLaren or a contractor for McLaren ever destroyed any isolates, among many other concerns.

A state-appointed monitor will oversee some of McLaren's activities regarding Legionnaires' tracking and prevention. That monitor is expected to arrive at the hospital "in fairly short order," according to Lyon.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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