Retired Assistant Head Teacher Still Suffering from Symptoms More Than A Year After Spending Several Days In Intensive Care
A teacher who spent several days in hospital after developing Legionnaires’ disease following a stay in Kent has instructed specialist public health lawyers to help him access funds for rehabilitation and to gain answers.
Gary McClellan, 68, had arranged an overnight stay at the Port Lympne Hotel in Hythe, Kent between 18 and 19 June 2021
The hotel had recently opened, following the government’s announcement that hotels could re-open for leisure guests from 17 May 2021 ahead of coronavirus legal restrictions ending in England on 19 July 2021.
The semi-retired assistant head teacher began to experience flu-like symptoms on 22 June 2021, including aches and pains and dehydration. These became worse over the following days, including chronic diarrhoea, bright orange urine, confusion, shortness of breath and sweats.
Gary was admitted to The Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother Hospital, in Margate on 28 June 2021 and spent several days in the intensive care unit before being discharged on 8 July 2021. Gary was due to return to work on 1 September 2021 on a full-time basis, but continued ill-health meant he was only able to return for two days a week some months later.
Gary, of Sandwich in Kent, instructed specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his illness and if it was linked to his stay. The firm has vast experience of helping victims of Legionnaires’ disease in the UK and abroad including dozens who were impacted by the Stoke and Edinburgh legionnaires’ outbreaks in 2012.
The family were contacted by Public Health England, which said preliminary test results from the hotel had come back as positive for legionella.
Expert Opinion“Gary’s experience is yet another example of the terrible and lasting impact Legionnaires’ disease can have on people’s physical and mental health.
“Having spent several days in intensive care, more than a year on Gary continues to suffer serious complications to such an extent that he has been unable to return to full time work.
“We’re determined to help Gary and his family find the answers they need and to recover money to compensate him for his terrible experience which continues to have a massive impact on his life. However, it’s also important to remind guests and hotel owners of the very real dangers of Legionnaires’ disease - a disease that can prove fatal. There are strict guidelines in place to help control the development of the bacteria that causes the disease, and it is important these are followed by all institutions.
“We would be interested in speaking to anyone who may have been impacted by illness, or indeed anyone has any information regarding any health and hygiene issues, at this hotel who would be able to assist with our investigations.”
“If during the course of our investigations failings in health and safety procedures are found, it’s vital that lessons are learned so others don’t have to go through what Gary has.” Sarita Sharma, Solicitor
Gary stayed in the Mountbatten Suite in the Port Lympne Hotel. Following investigations by Public Health England, the presumptive tests showed that the Legionella bacteria was detected in the shower hot and cold water supply.
Gary said: “I started to feel ill not long after I returned home from the hotel, but at first put it down to flu. The time I spent in hospital was a blur, but I did realise that whatever was wrong with me was serious, and I was determined to fight for my life.
“It was such a frightening experience and in many ways, I’m glad to still be here to talk about it, but months down the line, it’s clear my life is not the same and I fear that it will never be the same again.
“I was due to return to work full time. Instead of working full time, I could only manage a couple of days a week and as of June 2022 made the decision to fully retire from a career that I loved. It’s a great sadness that my teaching career has been forced to end prematurely and in this way.
“It has put me and my family through a terrible trauma, as they were forced to watch my declining health and as I went into intensive care, feared the worst. These aren’t experiences that you easily forget or recover from.
“Now I want answers on what happened, for my own peace of mind and to draw a line under what has been a nightmare for me and the whole family.”
What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is a serious, and potentially fatal, bacterial infection, caused by the Legionella bacteria. It's usually caught by breathing in droplets of water that have been contaminated with the bacteria as a result of water systems not being maintained properly.
Water reserves, cooling towers and evaporative condensers lying dormant for months make an ideal breeding ground for the Legionella bacteria.