CVPH Takes Steps to Address Legionella in Water System
Out of extreme caution, the University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) is restricting the use of unfiltered water in its main facility after continued attempts to reduce the level of Legionella in its water system has proven to be unsuccessful. Legionella is a water-borne pathogen that can cause Legionnaires’ Disease and Pontiac Fever.
The limitation has been implemented based on the recommendation of the New York State Department of Health. It affects only the main CVPH facility and does not impact its medical office buildings at 206, 210 or 214 Cornelia Street or the off campus facilities.
“There have been no recent or current incidents of hospital-acquired Legionnaires’ Disease here and the levels of Legionella, while sustained, present a truly low risk to our patients and staff,” according to Infection Disease Specialist Keith Collins, MD. Since January of 2020, there have been 3 patients treated for Legionella at CVPH, all of whom had the disease upon admission.
Director of Quality and Safety Brenda Murphy, RN explained that Legionella is spread by the aerosolization of water that contains the bacteria. For that reason, patients, visitors and staff are being asked not to consume tap water or ice from the machines located on each unit. Tub baths and showers are also temporarily restricted with alternative bathing/cleansing/hygiene methods being put in place. Tap water can continue to be used for hand hygiene and to provide bedside baths where the risk of aerosolization is low and staff and visitors are masked.
State regulations require that health care facilities routinely sample their water systems and institute control measures should the level of Legionella exceed the DOH standard. CVPH currently uses a silver and copper ionization process to address the level of bacteria in its water system, a method adopted after hyperchlorination failed to address the detectable levels. That system will be adjusted while staying with the specified treatment range.
“We are making changes to the essential components of our water system, especially the hot water system, to eliminate the risk of Legionella colonization,” explained Associate Vice President of Patient Care Operations Christopher Booth.
The restrictions and limitations will remain until three cycles, at prescribed intervals, meet the regulatory mandated levels. Booth said that could take a minimum of 4 months.
Point of use filters are being installed throughout the facility so that showers and baths can resume as soon as possible. “Where these filters are used, there is no risk,” Booth explained. Bottled water and ice will also be available on all nursing units for patients and staff to consume.
“We are taking these safety precautions while we continue to address the detectable bacteria levels,” Murphy said. “Protecting the health and safety of our patients, visitors and our staff is our first priority. The staff is doing a wonderful job making the necessary adjustments and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through this issue.”
About Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
The University of Vermont Health Network - Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) is a private, not-for profit hospital in Plattsburgh, NY. Established in 1967 with the merger of Champlain Valley and Physicians Hospitals, CVPH joined Fletcher Allen Partners in 2012, which in 2014 became The University of Vermont Health Network. Together with its partner hospitals, the UVM Medical Group and a home health agency, CVPH provides high quality, cost effective care, close to home. Services include an award winning cardiac services program, accredited cancer center, freestanding ambulatory surgery center, comprehensive rehabilitation services and a 24 hour physician-staffed Emergency Department. Governed by a 15-member Board of Directors, CVPH is accredited by the Joint Commission and licensed by New York State and Medicare/Medicaid Approved. Learn more at UVMHealth.org/CVPH or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
About The University of Vermont Health Network
The University of Vermont Health Network is an integrated system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York with a shared mission: working together, we improve people’s lives. The partners are:
- The University of Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network Medical Group
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Porter Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Home Health & Hospice
Our 4,000 health care professionals are driven to provide high-quality, cost-efficient care as close to home as possible. Strengthened by our academic connection to the University of Vermont, each of our affiliates remains committed to its local community by providing compassionate, personal care shaped by the latest medical advances and delivered by highly skilled experts.