McLaren Flint threatens legal action after state orders compliance with Legionella investigation

Jun 13, 2019

The state is once again ordering McLaren Flint hospital to address conditions that state officials say could put patients at risk of legionella exposure.

McLaren Flint has already been the subject of investigations in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and the state has repeatedly tried to link an uptick in legionnaires cases to conditions at the hospital.

State officials are asking the hospital to comply with water restrictions, data requests, public health investigations and official department recommendations.

Lynn Sutfin is a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She said the state has tried to work with the hospital.

“We are hoping for prompt compliance with this order so we can minimize the health risks for the McLaren’s patients,” Sutfin said.

According to Sutfin two new cases of legionnaires disease associated with McLaren Flint prompted a new investigation with the Centers for Disease Control. Hospital officials agreed to the CDC’s involvement but allegedly set conditions for the investigation that would “hinder” the CDC and state health department.

Sutfin said one of the cases associated with the hospital this year was “a definite healthcare-associated case” that resulted after a 10 day stay at the hospital.

McLaren Flint has repeatedly disputed the state’s claims saying that the uptick in legionnaires cases correspond to increases in legionnaires across the county - not just at the hospital.

In a statement one hospital official wrote that they believe the order “represents the state’s continuous efforts to shift blame for their bad decisions made five years ago onto our hospital.”

Hospital officials said they’re reviewing the state’s order and exploring possible legal action against the state.

You can view their full statement below:

“Our hospital treats sick people, including people that come to our facility with Legionnaires’ Disease contracted from community sources. Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, including a 100% increase in Legionnaire’s disease cases in Genesee County last year, the State continually attributes those cases to our facility.

In the last three years we have collected approximately 863 water samples for routine laboratory analysis of Legionella and conducted more than 3,000 measurements of residual oxidant in our facility water systems. We routinely share those results with our regulators and have never once been issued a citation on our water system by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs or any other regulatory agency. We welcomed the Genesee County Health Department and MDHHS in our hospital earlier this week for a sampling event (the third in the last six months) and will host the Centers for Disease Control in our facility later this month.

Yet today, on the eve of another significant court event regarding criminal charges against former MDHHS employees, the department issues this very public effort against our facility.

We are reviewing the MDHHS and LARA order now. We believe it is unfounded and represents the state’s continuous efforts to shift blame for their bad decisions made five years ago onto our hospital. We will respond to MDHHS within their prescribed time period and are exploring possible legal action against the department.”