Albany Times Union – Saratoga Legionnaires Lawsuits filed by HC&D

Lawsuits filed following Saratoga Springs Legionnaire’s outbreak

Published 9:28 pm, Friday, May 12, 2017
  • Ballston Spa

Two lawsuits have been brought in connection with an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in Saratoga Springs last fall.

The son of Alice Johnson, an 86-year-old woman who died in October after contracting Legionnaire’s disease at the Wesley Health Care Center, has sued the nursing home.

Saratoga Springs resident Susan Gonino has sued Saratoga Hospital, claiming she contracted Legionnaire’s while admitted to the hospital for surgery in October.

Both lawsuits were filed in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County this month by Albany attorney Michael Conway. They accuse the institutions of negligence in allowing the presence of Legionella bacteria on their premises.

Neither the state nor Wesley would comment on a lawsuit. Wesley released a statement in response to an inquiry from the Times Union.

“The Wesley Community places great value on the care of its residents, staff, volunteers and visitors to our campus,” it said. “We will continue to ensure the highest quality of care for our residents, which has been the foundation of our mission for more than 40 years.”

The local Legionnaire’s outbreak was first identified in October, when three residents and one staff member at Wesley contracted the disease. By the following month, 18 patients had been identified, including Johnson and another who died.

Eleven of the patients had either stayed at or visited the Wesley Health Care Center during the period when they would have contracted the disease. Nursing home officials have identified five sources of water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria that cause the pneumonia-like illness, and took action to remediate the problems.

Seven other infected patients, however, had been neither residents nor visitors to the nursing home. But state officials had not found a contaminated water source outside the nursing home campus.

While no contaminated water sources had been found at Saratoga Hospital, Gonino previously told the Times Union that it was the only place she could have contracted the illness. She had otherwise been homebound.

Legionnaires’ disease does not spread from one person to another, according to the state Health Department. The Legionella bacteria that cause it are breathed in, often through a mist. Symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle aches and headaches, are similar to pneumonia.