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A Message From Ochsner Health System

Ochsner Health has a deep and unwavering commitment to patient safety. We recognize the importance of infection control in every aspect of our healthcare services.

Recently, we have identified two patients at OMC – Jefferson Highway who have been diagnosed with Legionella pneumonia. Legionella pneumonia is a type of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by bacteria called Legionella bacteria.

Two cases have been reported, and we believe they are two isolated cases. These cases have not been confirmed to have been acquired at OMC – Jefferson Highway.

Legionella bacteria is rarely, if ever, transmitted from person to person and most people exposed to Legionella do not develop Legionella pneumonia. People with weakened immune systems, chronic lung disease or other chronic health conditions, as well as those of advanced age and smokers, are at a higher risk if exposed, which may intensify existing complex health problems. Legionella pneumonia is treatable with antibiotics and most people impacted can expect to make a full recovery.

Investigations into these types of Legionella pneumonia cases are complex. It is often not possible to determine the origin of the bacteria that infected people.

Preliminary environmental test results detected Legionella bacteria at OMC – Jefferson Highway. The cultures obtained lead us to believe the bacteria were from isolated fixtures and not in our water system.

Out of an abundance of caution, the following steps are being taken:

  • Extensive water testing is in progress across all of OMC- Jefferson Highway and will be ongoing for at least one year. We test routinely as part of our water management plan.
  • We are implementing a response plan to remove any bacterial strains that could be in our water system.
  • The rooms where these patients received care have been taken out of service.
  • We are augmenting our mechanical water delivery systems where appropriate.
  • Our Infection Prevention department will assess all patients at risk of pneumonia for Legionella and recommend additional testing when appropriate to the attending physicians.
  • We are also partnering closely with the Office of Public Health for their expertise and resources.

Consistent with Ochsner’s commitment to quality and safety, we will continue to perform ongoing environmental testing. Although we know the risk of contracting Legionellapneumonia is rare, we acknowledge that this news may be concerning for our patients, their families and for our care teams. Although not required, we’ve taken precautionary steps to notify and work closely with local and state health officials to bring all available resources to the table to provide a safe environment for our patients, visitors and staff.

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