UnitingCare Health strives for excellence in all aspects of our operations, in the continual improvement of the quality of the services we deliver, and in the way we operate within the healthcare industry and wider community.
In line with Queensland Government legislation announced on 4 February 2016, we report on all types of Legionella tested in our hospitals.
Although Legionella is a common occurrence in the environment, our water management regime, based on international best practice standards, continues to reduce the associated risk to patients and staff.
On this page you will find Frequently Asked Questions about Legionella and our water management practices.
(strain known to cause most water-related Legionella infections)
*Legionella Non Pneumophila
(strain that may cause water-related Legionella infections)
For additional information please refer to our water control measures
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Should I be concerned about coming for a consultation or procedure at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital?
There is no need for concern about coming to The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital for treatment.
The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital has in place systems and process that meet and in some case exceed the current guidelines for water quality by issued Queensland Health. These guidelines align with international best practice guidelines for eradication of Legionella in order to achieve water quality that is as safe as possible. The hospital is committed to maintaining treatment and testing on an ongoing basis.
2) Is there any risk of patients, visitors and staff contracting Legionnaires Disease at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital?
The hospital’s water is entirely safe to use for human consumption.
It is important to understand that Legionnaires Disease is not spread from person to person.
The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital water testing and treatment program involves:
- Comprehensive quarterly testing program of the hospital’s water systems that is in line with the guidelines developed by Queensland Health for all Queensland hospitals
- A quality water treatment plant that maintains chlorine levels at a rate consistent with the guidelines issued by Queensland Health. This system is monitored daily.
3) What is Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires Disease is an infection of the lungs (pneumonia) caused by bacteria of the Legionella family. The bacteria is commonly found in the environment, but infection only occurs in “at-risk” people. Legionnaires disease can usually be treated with antibiotics.
4) Who is most impacted by Legionnaires Disease?
Legionnaires Disease most often affects “at-risk” people such as the elderly and particularly those who smoke or who have chronic lung disease. Also at increased risk are those whose immune systems are suppressed by medications or diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, diabetes or HIV-AIDS. Pregnant women with lung disorders or reduced immunity are also at risk. Well patients, children and babies are at very low risk.
5) How is Legionnaires Disease spread?
Legionnaires Disease can occur after a person breathes in contaminated water vapour or dust from such places as air conditioning cooling towers, whirlpool spas, showerheads and other bodies of water. Legionnaires Disease is not spread from person to person or by drinking water.
6) What are the symptoms of Legionnaires Disease?
Legionella Pneumonia symptoms usually begin two to 10 days after exposure, with symptoms such as fever, chills, a cough and shortness of breath. Some people also have muscle aches, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and diarrhoea.
7) Why is monitoring of a hospital’s water supply important?
As outlined in the enHealth "Guidelines for Legionella Control in the Operation and Maintenance of Water Distribution Systems in Health and Aged Care Facilities" ( enHealth Guidelines.) sampling and analysis of water in a facility’s water distribution system is vital to:
- ensure that the risk control measures instituted are effective – this is sometimes referred to as operational monitoring.
- determine the presence and extent of Legionella colonisation, both generally and following the implementation of control or remediation measures – this is known as verification monitoring.
Monitoring is part of an effective Legionella risk management strategy. Monitoring provides the ability to assess the effectiveness of maintenance and controls, and detect the presence of Legionella before cases of Legionnaires’ disease occur.
The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital undertakes both operational monitoring and verification monitoring.