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St. Joseph’s lifts water restriction on emergency-services building after Legionella testing

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center has lifted the water restriction on its emergency-services building after test results “confirmed no presence of Legionella bacteria.”


The hospital imposed the restriction on Friday night, it said in a news release issued Monday morning.


St. Joseph’s late Monday confirmed that a hospital patient in September died from what the hospital believes were “complications of multiple medical problems in addition to the Legionella pneumonia.” St. Joseph’s also noted that it hasn’t been able to conclude the patient contracted the bacteria while at the hospital. St. Joseph’s also had two additional patients who tested positive for Legionella but did recover, according to its statement.



St. Joseph’s doesn’t currently have any Legionella pneumonia patients as of now, the hospital also noted in its statement.


St. Joseph’s on Friday received test results which identified potential Legionella bacteria in some samples of its water supply, Dr. Sandra Sulik, vice president for medical affairs, said in a statement issued Saturday morning.


“These results are preliminary and may have indicated a false reading. We will not know for sure until final culture-test results return in several days. However, we are taking this very seriously,” said Sulik.


The situation “does not relate in any way” to St. Joseph’s air-handling system, Sulik said.


“Any potential concern is specifically limited to the tap water,” she added.


The hospital had restricted the use of tap water to hand washing only, Sulik said in the Saturday statement.


Other areas of the hospital remain under the water restriction, St. Joseph’s said. As further test results become available, the facility will determine when it can lift the water restrictions that are still in place.


Until then, St. Joseph’s will continue using bottled water and ice in the affected areas, it said.


St. Joseph’s decided to lift the water restriction in the emergency-services building in consultation with the New York State Department of Health, determining the water supply is safe for patient use.


The emergency-services building includes St. Joseph’s emergency department, emergency observation, and the comprehensive psychiatric emergency program (CPEP).


As a “further precaution,” St. Joseph’s plans to install specially engineered filters to the faucets located in patient-care areas.


They’re designed to filter out possible contaminants, including Legionella bacteria, and will allow St. Joseph’s to return to regular water use in patient-care areas. The facility expects the filters to arrive on Monday, and expects crews will complete their installation Tuesday evening.


About Legionella pneumonia

Legionella bacteria, which are commonly found in the environment, cause Legionella pneumonia, St. Joseph’s said.


Those susceptible to Legionella pneumonia are typically over the age of 50; have weak immune systems; or have chronic lung disease.

Drinking water with Legionella bacteria does not result in illness, the hospital noted. Infection may occur when contaminated water droplets are breathed into the lungs, which can sometimes occur during eating and drinking.


Legionella pneumonia is not transmitted person-to-person, St. Joseph’s said.


Contact Reinhardt at



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