Poinciana Gardens resident has Legionnaires
Adding to testing strain on Health Department
BY TERRY SCHMIDA
KONK LIFE STAFF WRITER
A resident of the Poinciana Gardens Senior Living home and assisted living facility tested positive for Legionnaires’ Disease last week, leading to further Health Department testing to determine the source of the bacteria involved.
The name and condition of the resident hasn’t been released, but another resident told a relative over the phone that they had been informed over the weekend of the Legionnaires’ infection by management.
The relative, who asked to remain anonymous, expressed concern that residents could be exposed to the Legionell bacterium that causes Legionnaires, while waiting on the results of testing undertaken on Monday, April 20 at the facility, located at 1664 Dunlap Dr., off Duck Avenue.
Legionnaires’ is a respiratory illness so named because of its discovery during an outbreak of the disease among a group of dozens of Legionaries at a Philadelphia hotel in 1976.
More than 30 people died as a result of the epidemic which was later found to be caused by the presence of the bacteria in the building’s central air-conditioning system. It can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics depending on factors such as the victim’s age and health.
Poinciana Gardens Administrator J. Manuel “Manny” Castillo Sr. acknowledged the incident and subsequent investigation and testing by the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County in an email on April 23.
After stressing that Legionnaires’ disease cannot be spread person to person, Castillo said that “to date there have been no other cases and no obvious source was found . . . Residents, family members and staff have been informed, and staff will follow DOH recommendations such as routine testing for water chlorine and water temperature around the facility, and flushing water lines that are not routinely used.”
Castillo also said that management would, “although not required by regulators,  develop and implement a water management plan to reduce the possibility of bacteria growth or spread, regardless of the results,” of the DOH tests, which he said he expected within 10 to 14 days.
Castillo didn’t say whether or not the infected resident had spent any amount of time outside of Poinciana Gardens prior to the illness and positive test result.
The DOH Administrator, Bob Eadie, said April 23 that a thorough inspection had indeed been conducted at Poinciana Gardens, with results expected in about two weeks.
“We responded to a report and conducted tests there,” Eadie said. “The good news is that we haven’t had any other reported cases. And it can’t be passed from person to person. It can become aerosolized. The lab is a little swamped right now, with all the Covid-19 testing.”
There are no Covid-positive residents or staff at the facility, Castillo said.
Poinciana Gardens opened in 2018 and is owned by the Key West Housing Authority. Castillo serves as its Executive Director. The third floor is assisted living, licensed for 58 beds.