powered by LeadingAge New York

State and NYC-Specific Requirements Regarding Legionella Infection Control

Last week, we reported to members that the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) and the Commissioner of Health adopted emergency regulations, effective immediately, to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria by requiring registration, testing, inspection, and certification of cooling towers located in New York State. We have received many questions in response, and are seeking clarification from DOH. If you have questions, click here to send them, so we may add them to our list of issues.

LeadingAge NY’s counsel, Hinman Straub, has developed an analysis of the regulations; both the analysis and the regulations can be viewed here.

There are two key pieces to the regulations, and both apply statewide. We encourage all members to review as it applies broadly:

  1. There are specific requirements for nursing homes (and hospitals) to develop a Legionella sampling plan for its facilities’ potable water distribution system and take necessary actions to protect the safety of their patients or residents.
  2. The regulations also require the owner of any building or facility with a cooling tower to meet the registration, testing, and inspection requirements contained in the emergency regulation by Sept. 16, 2015. It is important to stress that the requirement applies to the owner of the building.  If your organization does not own the building, you are encouraged to reach out to your landlord to first determine if you have a water cooling tower; and second, determine that the landlord is aware of the regulations.

Obviously, these emergency regulations were developed quickly and we hope to learn more.  We will share any additional information with members as we learn it.  

New York City-specific requirements

Additionally, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health (NYCDOHMH) Commissioner released an order on Aug. 6, 2015, stating that all cooling towers in New York City must be disinfected 14 days from receipt of the order. Click here to read the Commissioner's Order. NYCDOHMH mandates building owners who have not already done so to "register cooling towers and upload the certification of disinfection on the DOB website. Building managers can register their buildings' cooling towers online through NYC Buildings: http://on.nyc.gov/tower-registry.”

If you have questions regarding this requirement, contact the NYC Emergency Management Health & Medical team at HealthMedicalList@oem.nyc.gov.

Updates on the Legionella outbreak and related infection control efforts will continue to be provided as needed in Intelligence, and we have posted a variety of resources about Legionella here.

Contact: Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8828