Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is taking proactive measures to prevent Legionella in facility water systems by upgrading sinks, showers and bathtubs in the medical/surgical areas of the Little Rock facility.

Legionellosis is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria. Some forms of the bacteria cause a serious type of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease, but may also cause a less serious infection called Pontiac fever. The bacteria are found naturally in fresh water environments, like lakes and streams, but may spread into human-made water systems.

The project at John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock begin the first week of January, and will not present any safety risk or affect the number of available beds for Veterans patients. The project is expected to be finished in the summer of 2018.

The project affects wards on the fourth and sixth floor of the hospital. Contractors will be working Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., completing one floor at a time. Only six to 10 beds will be affected at any one time. Each ward upgrade is expected to take from three to 11 business days.

For example, Veterans on 4C would be temporarily moved to another ward while pipes to the sinks, showers and bathtubs on 4C are upgraded. Then construction would move to 4B. Other wards to be affected are 4D, 6C, 6D and 6C.

The Little Rock VA facility is a 255-bed tertiary care level 1a facility serving more than 125,000 Arkansas Veterans.