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McLaren Flint fires back at state health dept. over Legionnaires' disease

McLaren hospital in Flint
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint’s McLaren Hospital is responding forcefully to state health officials' demands for more information on Legionnaires' disease cases and prevention. 

In a letter to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, McLaren hospital CEO Chad Grant accuses the department of misplacing blame for the Legionnaires' outbreak in Genesee County.

“The Department’s singular focus on McLaren Flint is unwarranted, unjustified and difficult to reconcile with the state records that indicate that, as early as October 2014, MDHHS staff recognized that the initial hypothesis that McLaren Flint was the common source of  exposure for the cases of Legionnaires' disease was not consistent with data and trends, “ Grant wrote in his letter to MDHHS director Nick Lyon.

A majority of Genesee County’s Legionnaires' cases in 2014 and 2015 have links to McLaren. During a two-year period, 12 people died and more than 90 fell ill with the pneumonia-like illness. The number of cases fell sharply in 2016.

Earlier this year, state health officials claimed the hospital’s water system is “a nuisance” and potentially a “cause of illness."   

“While we have attempted to work with McLaren Flint to address the ongoing health risk of healthcare-associated legionella at its facility, we are issuing this order today as a result of McLaren Flint’s insufficient response to our requests, as well as to request additional information regarding how they implemented the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations made in October and November 2016,” MDHHS Director Nick Lyon said in the Feb. 14 order.   

MDHHS demanded more information from the hospital about its test results, how its following water treatment recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, and other issues.

In his letter, McLaren CEO Chad Grant questions MDHHS’ authority to make some of its demands, and suggests much of the information it’s requesting is already available in the departments own records.

Grant also says the state health department lacks the legal authority to implement “new testing” and to appoint a special monitor.  

MDHHS director Nick Lyon says his office has received McLaren's.  Lyon issued this statement this afternoon:

"Our order and requests for information is necessary to ensure that there is not an ongoing risk and that McLaren Flint has taken the appropriate steps to remediate any issues internal to their facility to protect the health and safety of their patients as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October and November. Our order remains in place and we fully expect McLaren Flint to comply.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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