Family of woman who died after contracting Legionella at Mount Carmel Grove City speaks out

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A Central Ohio family is hoping no one else feels the pain they do, as they grieve a loved one who died shortly after they said she was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital.

Deanna (Dee) Rezes was admitted to the hospital on May 18, to be treated for pulmonary hypertension. Two days later, she was released.

“She was just as good as you and I,” said Tom Rezes, Dee’s widower.

Tom and Deanna Rezes were together 62 years.

“We were lifelong companions,” Tom Rezes said.

The couple did everything together.

“I’ve met a lot of people in my life and I’ve never known two people more in love than my mother and father,” said one of their four sons, Jeff Rezes.

On May 28, Rezes was transported back to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. Within two days, her family said they received the diagnosis.

“It was one of the nurses that actually told us first and then the next morning, we were there and the doctor came in and said, ‘You realize she has Legionnaires’ disease, do you know what this is?’” said Jeff Rezes. “I said, ‘Yes we do.’”

Dee Rezes passed away on June 2. The 75-year-old leaves behind four sons, 16 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

“It’s been extremely rough to be without her,” said Tom Rezes. “If it wasn’t for my sons and extended family, I would totally be lost.”

The Rezes family has retained attorney Matthew Wolf, who said he intends to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Mount Carmel Health System and others, next week.

The family said they hope the lawsuit has a meaningful impact.

“We just want to make sure everybody’s in a safe environment,” Tom Rezes said. “We’re not in it for fame and wealth and everything else, we’re in it to — we want to protect the whole community, you know. This should have never happened.”

To date, Franklin County Public Health officials have identified 16 individuals who it says contracted legionnaires disease at Mount Carmel Grove City.

Two other patients who said they contracted Legionnaires’ disease at the newly opened hospital have sued the facility and its health system.

Martin and Rebecca Brown, from Orient, sued Mount Carmel Grove City in Franklin County on Tuesday. Anna Hillis, of Grove City, filed suit Friday.

The Browns’ lawsuit says Martin Brown was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ after undergoing heart surgery at Mount Carmel. Anna Hillis says she contracted the disease while visiting there in mid-May.

Mount Carmel has stated that the legionella outbreak was traced to an improperly disinfected hot water system. Patients, staff and visitors were temporarily prohibited from showering or drinking tap water, in the hospital. Those restrictions have since been lifted.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the health system released the following statement:

“We are committed to doing what is right and fair for these families. We apologize to everyone who was affected by this. There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our patients. Every day we are trusted with people’s lives and we take that responsibility seriously. We are implementing a long-term solution to ensure legionella is effectively controlled and that this doesn’t happen again.”

Mount Carmel Health

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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