Grove City woman identified as Legionnaires' patient who died at Mount Carmel Grove City

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A Grove City woman has been identified as the patient diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease who died during an outbreak at Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital, where most water restrictions were lifted Thursday.

Deanna “Dee” Rezes, 75, died Sunday at the hospital, where she had been admitted May 28 with flu-like symptoms and pulmonary hypertension, according to Matthew Wolf, an attorney representing her family who confirmed her identity Thursday.

Rezes was among a total of at least 14 patients who had been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease at the hospital as of mid-afternoon Thursday. Franklin County Public Health has said her the official cause of her death has not been determined.

She was married for 60 1/2 years to Thomas Rezes and had four married adult sons, Jeff, Tim, James and Joe; 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held for her from 5-7 p.m. Friday at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, 3005 Holt Road, Grove City.

Mount Carmel Grove City expects all water restrictions placed on the facility as a result of the outbreak to be removed by the end of the week, officials said.

The water on floors two through seven — which includes all patient floors — is now safe to use after temporary filters were installed, according to Dr. Richard Streck, chief clinical operations officer. The water filters provide an “extremely effective barrier to legionella transmission,” he said in a statement.

Close to 2,000 water filters have been put in place, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, told reporters Thursday. Acton said officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured her of the filters’ quality.

The source of the outbreak hasn’t yet been determined, Acton said.

Mount Carmel tested the water in Grove City in February, but a delay in the hospital’s opening led to water sitting in pipes and may have contributed to the outbreak, said Rebecca Fugitt, assistant chief for the health department’s Bureau of Environmental Health and Radiation Protection. The hospital opened April 28.

Acton said the number of diagnoses will likely increase because Legionnaires’ disease has an incubation period of up to 15 days. The first cases were confirmed on May 30 and 31.

A patient who was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia, died Sunday, although the cause of death hasn’t officially been determined.

During the water-use restriction, patients couldn’t shower and only bottled water and bagged ice were used. The hospital put its water system through a series of disinfecting measures.

As of Thursday afternoon, the restrictions were still in place on the hospital’s first floor and lower level, but Streck said they will be removed by the end of the week. The faucets on those two floors have different features and water filters to fit them took more time to acquire, Fugitt said.

Acton said Ohio could do more to prevent these outbreaks, including developing a licensing program for hospitals and updating plumbing regulations.

“We’ll learn from this,” she said.

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