A recent outbreak of Legionella pneumonia has been associated with the Glenwood Nursing Home facility in Florence, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Dr. Karen Landers, who is leading the investigation into the outbreak, said that of the thirteen confirmed cases, one patient has died from the illness. There are also ten suspected cases. She could not go into specifics, but said the patient was not from the Shoals area and did fall into the high-risk category for contracting the bacteria.
Health officials said the common link between all confirmed cases is the Glenwood Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. Investigators have been working around the clock with staff at the facility collecting samples from the environment, but they are not ruling out any other possible sources.
They have asked Regency Square Mall to voluntarily turn off their cooling towers while the investigation is ongoing. Health officials said no new patients have been identified since Oct. 10.
"We have a lot of cultures pending in the laboratory. This germ has to be grown in a special laboratory and the CDC has been providing technical assistance and support to the AL Dept. of Public Health in this. We do expect some results early next week," said Dr. Landers.
In a statement released Friday, Glenwood Healthcare said:
As a leader in long-term care healthcare in Alabama, Glenwood Healthcare immediately proceeded to notify and cooperate with state and local health departments and area hospitals with respect to identifying and treating any instances of Legionellosis.
Glenwood Healthcare is not aware of any conclusive results from the environmental testing performed in our community by Alabama Department of Public Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control that identify the source of Legionella bacteria.
One man at the nursing home said he was there to pick up his mother, who was in the middle of a 20-day rehab stay following surgery. Steve Modas said he had no idea about the outbreak until he saw it on the news. As soon as the health department released the name of the facility, he decided to check his mother out early.
Modas said he is pleased with the care his mother has received at the facility, but he wants to err on the side of caution.
"I wish somebody would have said 'Hey, we have a little problem we're looking at,' but then again, maybe I'm just being emotional right now. That's my mother, that's my life in there, and I just want to get her out,' said Modas.