Grove City woman identified as patient who passed away after legionella outbreak

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Lawyers with the Donahey Law Firm identified the patient who died after testing positive for legionella at Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City. 75-year-old Deanna Rezes of Grove City was admitted to Mount Carmel Grove City on May 18th for pulmonary hypertension. A week after she was discharged, she was back in the hospital with flu-like symptoms, according to a fact sheet provided by the law firm.

Rezes is the only death of 14 confirmed cases, according to the Franklin County Health Department website.

Rezes and her husband Tom.

With the total cases of Legionnaires disease at 14 as of Thursday afternoon, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health are working with Mount Carmel Hospital at Grove City to figure out where the bacteria, legionella, is growing. Among those, one has died and the family has sought counsel to hold the hospital accountable.

Rezes’ family was told on May 31 she had legionella. She passed away on June 2.

“Just like all of the other families that are being affected, they’re upset,” explained attorney Gordon Evans Thursday morning. “This is something that shouldn’t have happened and the hope is that there will be some measures taken by the hospital… In fact I know they are investigating with the Ohio Department of Health as we speak.”

On Sunday, the hospital released the following statement regarding the only patient who was diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease, and later died:

“We are deeply saddened to confirm that one of the patients who was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease passed away today,” the statement said in part. You can read the entire statement here.

While the hospital cannot discuss the patient, the family’s attorney is more than willing to talk about what happened. Lawyers Gordon Evans and Matthew Wolf sat down with digital reporter Tony Mirones to talk about their investigation into Mount Carmel Hospital in Grove City. 

“We’re going to have to do several things and get several experts on board,” said Evans. “I do think the hospital now at this point wants to know what happened and what they can do to keep it from happening again.”

Evans looks directly at the hospital as being responsible.

“In a complicated water system such as this, the causes are improper chlorination, improper pH levels, improper water temperatures, things that can and should be fixed before you put patients who are already in a compromised state  in that hospital,” he said. “Especially in this patient, she was already somewhat compromised from a pulmonary standpoint.”

Thursday afternoon, the Ohio Department of Health’s Health Director, Amy Acton, released a statement saying, “After consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our ODH experts, and our partners at Franklin County Public Health, I am encouraged by the recent measures taken at Mount Carmel Grove City to address the spread of Legionella.”

The release states medical-grade filters are being used and have a 30-plus year history of effectiveness. 

“Mount Carmel Grove City has also pledged regular, future ongoing testing of their water system,” said Acton in the statement. “Our team will be working closely with their staff and with local public health officials.”

According to the CDC, one factor that leads to legionella growth is construction. The hospital in Grove City opened in April after its construction was complete. Another factor is that this is a healthcare facility. The CDC has an entire web page of “need to know” information targeting managers of buildings and healthcare facilities.

Rezes is survived by her husband Thomas Rezes of 60 years, her four children, 16 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Her family will have a celebration of life Friday, June 7.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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