Legionnaires’ disease is on the rise in the United States, including in Senior Living buildings. Legionnaires’ disease is a serious type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria, which live in water. An inadequately maintained water system in a building could provide an environment more conducive to bacterial growth, potentially putting residents and staff at risk.
Legionnaires’ Disease by the Numbers
74% of cases in ages 50+2
9 in 10 cases preventable1
These trends are part of the reason why CMS released guidelines in June 2017 on combating and controlling Legionella in Senior Living. The notification read, in part, that:
Surveyors will review policies, procedures, and reports documenting water management implementation results to verify that facilities:
- Conduct a facility risk assessment to identify where Legionella and other opportunistic waterborne pathogens (e.g. Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Burkholderia, Stenotrophomonas, nontuberculous mycobacteria, and fungi) could grow and spread in the facility water system.
- Implement a water management program that considers the ASHRAE industry standard and the CDC toolkit, and includes control measures such as physical controls, temperature management, disinfectant level control, visual inspections, and environmental testing for pathogens.
- Specify testing protocols and acceptable ranges for control measures, and document the results of testing and corrective actions taken when control limits are not maintained.
Initially, many Senior Living providers have found themselves short-staffed or under-qualified to develop water management programs. But with guidance, developing and implementing a plan utilizing internal staff, outside support or a combination of the two is within reach for most organizations. Two helpful guide documents provide a starting point: the ASHRAE 188 and the CDC Toolkit. These will help you understand the risk, assess your building and begin to develop a water management program to reduce the risk of Legionella growing and spreading within a water system and devices. These include:
- Questionnaires to determine if an entire building or parts of it are at increased risk for growing and spreading Legionella
- A basic walkthrough of the elements of a Legionella water management program
- Scenarios describing common water quality problems and examples of how to respond to them to reduce the risk for Legionella
- Special sections and considerations for those who work in healthcare facilities
- Plus more
TELS has resources to help you meet this emerging challenge!
TELS has collaborated with industry experts and state surveyors to create a library of regulatory tasks and materials that can be tailored to your buildings’ preferences. Sign in today to access a water management toolkit that can help you with your water management program from development to testing. Or contact us at 800-667-3880 to talk about the status of your water management plan and how TELS Building Services can help you develop, drive scale or assist with compliance to CMS guidelines.