Pennsylvania Nursing Home With COVID-19 Sees Legionella in Water Sample

April 28, 2020

A Westmoreland County nursing home has tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’

A Westmoreland County nursing home infected with COVID-19 (the coronavirus) has tested positive for the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease.

Department of Health officials confirmed that a water sample recently tested at the Loyalhanna Care Center in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, was positive for legionella.

“There have not been any cases of Legionnaires' at the facility. They did have a water sample test positive and are taking appropriate steps to remediate,” said Nate Wardle, state health department spokesman. “When an infectious disease occurs in a congregate care facility, such as a nursing home, there are significant concerns as to how quickly it can spread among both residents and employees.”

The company that owns the nursing home, Quest Healthcare Development Inc., questioned the state’s findings, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The facility’s administrator confirmed in March that a resident was diagnosed with the coronavirus. At least seven residents had tested positive for coronavirus in the past two weeks. 

Legionella was also detected this year at Westmoreland Manor, the county-owned nursing home. According to government records, the Manor also is operated by Quest Healthcare Development. This resulted in residents and staff having to use bottled water for drinking, cooking and cleaning for three weeks while officials worked to remove the bacteria from the building’s water system.

A review of inspection records from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the Loyalhanna Care Center was fined twice in 2018 for health and safety failures. According to federal records, the facility received more than $373,000 in fines in the last two years. 

The most recent inspection, conducted in February by the state’s Department of Health, found additional violations including one in that “determined that the facility failed to maintain a safe and sanitary environment for residents and staff.”

State officials said the virus has infected 86 residents and 23 staffers at five nursing homes in the county, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Data released by the health department revealed 68 people who reside in the Latrobe area with the same ZIP code as the Loyalhanna Care Center have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The federal government recently announced a new regulation that requires nursing homes to report all coronavirus cases to residents, their families and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Cristina Tuser