Routine water testing at the Southeastern Veterans' Center (SEVC) in Spring City has identified the presence of Legionella bacteria in the water treatment system. No cases have been reported of any residents having a physical aliment or diagnosis of Legionaries Disease. There is only a presence of the bacteria at this time.
Testing was conducted by ProAsys® and results were provided to the home on September 24. As required, DMVA notified the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the federal VA and immediately implemented a remediation plan in coordination with the contractor and staff.
"We are closely monitoring our residents and staff for any Legionella-related symptoms while we begin the process of disinfecting the water treatment system," said Rohan Blackwood, commandant at SEVC. "We are taking aggressive steps to rectify the situation in the next 24 hours. The safety and well-being of the people that live and work here every day is our number one priority.."
A variety of actions are being taken to sanitize the water system which include: changing and/or disinfecting all aerators and shower heads throughout the facility, flushing and performing a thermal shock to the hot water tanks, chlorinating the domestic hot water system, disinfecting the cooling towers, and then retesting the cooling towers and domestic hot water system after all disinfections are complete.
Other actions include the use of bottled drinking water and bath-in-bag systems for bathing residents because water will not be available from any faucets, sinks or showers until treatment is completed by mid-day on September 26. The water will be retested on September 29.
Set on a 120-acre campus, SEVC provides skilled nursing care, personal care, and dementia care for residents. It opened as the state's third veteran's home in 1986, and in 2012 a new 120-bed community living center was opened bringing its capacity to 238 beds.
The Southeastern Veterans' Center is one of six state facilities operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. The six facilities serve a total of 1,554 eligible veterans and their spouses across Pennsylvania. The other locations include the Delaware Valley Veterans' Home in Philadelphia, the Gino J. Merli Veterans' Center in Scranton, the Hollidaysburg Veterans' Home in Hollidaysburg, the Pennsylvania Soldiers' and Sailors' Home in Erie and the Southwestern Veterans' Center in Pittsburgh.
To learn more about Legionella visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: www.cdc.gov/legionella/about. For information about DMVA's State Veterans Home System visit www.dmva.pa.gov/stateveteranshomes.