LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster County Commissioners have announced that the Lancaster County Prison will undergo a sanitization procedure on Wednesday, Aug 23.
According to the release from the Office of Commissioners, back on Friday, Aug 11, the Lancaster County Prison was notified that an inmate who had come from a State Correctional Institute (SCI) that had been housed temporarily at the Lancaster County Prison and then was returned to the SCI had tested positive for Legionnaires’ Disease.
Legionnaires’ Disease, according to Mayo Clinic, is a severe form of pneumonia, or lung inflammation caused by infection. It is caused by a bacterium known as legionella.
The person was an inmate at the SCI before being transferred to Lancaster County Prison for 20 days in mid-July. The inmate was then returned to the SCI on July 26, and then was tested for the disease on Aug. 1. The test results came back on Aug. 9 and indicated the inmate tested positive for Legionnaires’ Disease.
Since then, the Office of the County Commissioners states that the inmate was subsequently reported to have fully recovered.
When alerted of this by the state, Lancaster County Prison staff immediately notified PrimeCare, who is the onsite medical provider. In addition, Lancaster County General Services ordered testing for multiple sites within the prison. This included common water sources and areas where the infected inmate had direct contact.
The office says that on Aug 21, one test came back positive with a trace amount of the bacteria that causes the disease being found in a sink where the inmate resided.
Due to this finding, the prison will be sanitizing the water system on Wednesday, Aug. 23. The procedure will be applied to all the cells within the medical housing unit and not just where the inmate was housed.
According to the office, the procedure involves a chemical pump injecting chlorine into both cold and hot water supplies within the medical housing unit. The water lines will be opened to pull the chlorinated water through the system and therefore killing off any bacteria within the system. After about three hours, the system will be flushed of the chlorinated water and testing will be done to make sure the chlorinated water is removed and returned to normal limits before being turned back into service.
“We have a professional team that is working on this issue. Just as we successfully navigated the difficulties of COVID, I am confident that our staff and General Services team will be able to handle this efficiently and effectively” Lancaster County Prison Warden Cheryl Steberger said “This issue highlights the continued challenges we face with the existing facility, some parts of which were constructed in the 1850s, and the importance of the steps we are taking to construct a new, modern facility.”
Inmates and staff at the prison have been instructed not to use the water in the medical housing unit during the procedure. Commissioners say the inmates who are currently in the unit will be moved to alternate housing where they will have the same accommodations. The prison has also installed filters and sanitized the ice machines in the prison as well as super heat the hot water heaters.
The Office of the County Commissioners states that no other inmates or staff has had symptoms of Legionnaires Disease. It also stated that no one in the prison has experienced symptoms over the three weeks since the inmate left the Lancaster County Prison.