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Health

Allegheny General Hospital considers new water system

Ben Schmitt
| Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, 3:36 p.m.
Allegheny General Hospital, part of Allegheny Health Network, in Pittsburgh's North Side.
Tribune-Review
Allegheny General Hospital, part of Allegheny Health Network, in Pittsburgh's North Side.

Allegheny General Hospital is exploring whether to purchase new water mitigation systems following the detection of Legionella bacteria in two water tanks this year.

Most water precautions have been lifted and the water tanks continue to test negative for the bacteria, said Dan Laurent, a spokesman for Allegheny Health Network.

“We are proceeding with our water precautions in select locations on the campus for the near term, however, including our cancer and transplant units to further safeguard high-risk patients,” Laurent said Friday.

On June 14, positive Legionella cultures were found in a water tank supplying the hospital's Snyder Pavilion, which houses the main inpatient facility. The previous week, workers found positive cultures in a tank that supplies water to the health system's outpatient cancer center.

Administrators then shut down all drinking water sources on the fourth through 12th floors inside Snyder Pavilion.

In late June, AGH broadened its testing of water sources upon recommendation from the Allegheny County Health Department.

Legionella bacteria can lead to Legionnaires' disease, a form of pneumonia that can be fatal to patients with compromised immune systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People generally contract the disease by inhaling contaminated vapors.

Allegheny General Hospital officials previously said that a cancer patient most likely contracted Legionnaires' disease in the hospital in May.

Two other unidentified patients may have contracted the illness at the hospital, but tests, so far, have not pinpointed the source of their infections. One has since died of an unrelated illness, according to Laurent.

“Other than the inpatient oncology and transplant units, water precautions have been lifted on the hospital's Snyder Pavilion inpatient floors,” he said.

Contact Ben Schmitt at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com

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