A patient at Villa St. Michael Nursing Home in Northwest Baltimore has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease and state and city officials are conducting tests to determine if the Legionella bacteria are in the facility's hot-water system.
J.B Hansen, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said test samples were taken at the 200-bed nursing home this week and that results are expected late next week.
Hansen said a patient at Villa St. Michael, whom he declined to identify but described as a woman in her 80s, was recently found to have Legionnaires' disease and is undergoing treatment at a local hospital.
Hansen said officials were awaiting word from the nursing home's owners on whether they would begin treatment of the hot-water systems now or await the results of the tests. In the meantime, he said, bottled water is being shipped in to take care of patient needs.
City Health Commissioner Peter L. Beilenson, whose agency has been working with the state and the nursing home's management on the issue, said that although the presence of the Legionella bacteria is not uncommon, it is of special concern with an at-risk nursing home population.
"We're keeping a very close watch on the patients," he said.
He said the testing included checks on about 20 patients in the same area of the nursing home as the woman.
The nursing home issued a news release stating that no additional cases had been reported and that at-risk patients were being monitored.
Nursing home officials said that there is "no indication" that the reported case originated at the nursing home.
Last year an 89-year-old patient at Villa St. Michael died after her feeding tube was left running for hours. State officials said the patient, Bertha Small, had literally been fed to death.
State officials subsequently cited the facility for violations of state and federal regulations and imposed a $7,500 fine. State officials have continued to monitor the nursing home's operations.
Hansen said 18 cases of Legionnaires' disease have been confirmed in the state this year. Last year 56 cases were recorded.