Troubled hotel slapped with lawsuits

Best Western is both sued and cleared for reopening

— The Best Western Sovereign in Albany was closed indefinitely—dark since the last day in May—when two guests who contracted Legionnaires’ Disease while staying at the hotel in the fall of 2011 filed lawsuits on Tuesday, June 12.

By the end of the week however, the hotel on Western Avenue was cleared for reopening. On Friday, June 15, the Albany County Department of Health received test results on water samples taken after two cases of Legionnaires’ Disease, a potentially deadly form of pneumonia, were reported in May. The test results showed no sign of Legionellosis bacteria in the building’s water system.

“The remediation measures taken by the hotel appear to have been effective. We will continue to monitor the situation with periodic testing,” said Dr. James Cruccetti, commissioner for the county Health Department.

This May wasn’t the first time the hotel had problems with legionellosis bacteria in the water system.

Deputy County Executive Michael Perrin said there are at least 10 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease connected to the Best Western Sovereign recorded with the county Health Department “going back to the beginning of this year.”

The two cases of Legionnaires’ Disease attached to the lawsuits stem from hotel stays in October and December of 2011. In one instance, Jason Woodard of Colonie visited the facility in early October and shortly thereafter spent a week at Albany Memorial Hospital after being diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease. In the second instance, 63-year-old Antonia Swierczewski of Massapequa stayed at the hotel from Dec. 23 to Dec. 25 and within 10 days was critically ill.

“(Swierczewski) got very seriously ill with this, was in critical condition, had septic shock, kidney failure, was in the hospital for 10 days,” said her attorney Michael Conway of the Albany Law Firm of Harris, Conway and Donovan.

According to information from the county health department, the risk of contracting Legionnaires’ Disease is relatively low for most people and the disease responds well to antibiotic treatment. However, individuals like the elderly, smokers, those with chronic lung disease or people with compromised immune systems have a greater risk of developing the disease.

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