Routine three-monthly water quality testing at Barcaldine Multipurpose Health Service has
returned two positive results for Legionella bacteria.

Central West Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Michel Lok said immediate action
had been taken to isolate two affected showers that tested positive.

“When Barcaldine was last routinely tested three months ago, no positive results were recorded,
so it’s unfortunate this latest round of quarterly testing has returned these two results,’’ he said.

“We will be shock-chlorinating the water system and replacing the affected shower heads
according to standard protocols for removing the Legionella bacteria.

“Once the water system had been cleansed and tap ware replaced, the affected areas will be
retested and will only be re-opened once they have tested clear.

“Services at Barcaldine MPHS have not been affected in any way and there is no risk to any
patients or staff.

“Patients and aged care residents have access to shower areas that have not been impacted
and they will be able to continue using these.’’

Mr Lok said Legionella bacteria were commonly found in the environment.

“The risks for staff, patients and visitors are low as the Legionella bacteria must be inhaled in
the form of water droplets to have any chance of being infectious,’’ he said.

“Secondly, it is generally only those people that are particularly vulnerable, sick or immune
-compromised who are susceptible to infection.’’

“The issue for many of our health facilities in the Central West – such as Barcaldine, Winton and
Blackall – is that town water supplies are sourced from hot bore water, which is then passed
through tanks to cool before distribution.

“It is this cooling process that is providing a good environment in which the Legionella bacteria
can establish themselves and grow.

“In addition, bore water-sourced municipal supplies in many rural areas may not be chlorinated,
which also provides opportunity for Legionella bacteria to establish themselves.’’

Mr Lok said the water quality at Central West Health inpatient facilities was tested routinely
every three months.

He said the testing at Barcaldine MPHS had been done on 4 July, with the results returned to
the health service late on 14 July.