Court hears Cork woman ended up in coma after contracting Legionnaires Disease at luxury hotel spa in Kerry

Court hears Cork woman ended up in coma after contracting Legionnaires Disease at luxury hotel spa in Kerry
Mary Kelleher, from Waterfall, Co. Cork, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Courts

A WOMAN who went to the luxury Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney to celebrate her wedding anniversary ended up in hospital in an induced coma when she contracted Legionnaires Disease after using the hotel spa facilities.

Mary Kelleher was in the induced coma for three weeks in hospital intensive care and when discharged from hospital after 54 days it was in a wheelchair and with crutches.

Mrs Kelleher and her husband Jer of Waterfall, Co Cork had decided to “splash out” on a stay in the five-star luxury hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in advance of a special mass and party at their family home.

She told the High Court she went to the spa after check-in and “tried everything “including the pool, the sauna, steam room and the hot and cold spa pool. After they checked out, she said the couple were “on top of the world and very happy.” But within days she was feeling unwell, her muscles were aching and she was very tired.

“I was aching stiff and tired. I put it down to the late-night at the party. The house was full of food and I had no appetite, she said.

She went to the doctor and a viral infection was suspected but she was feeling tired and she said it was “like my muscles were losing power”. When she went back to a doctor she was told she had pneumonia and was transferred to the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.

“I can remember being admitted and put in a ward but I don’t remember anything else.” When she woke up from her induced coma three weeks later, she thought it was the next day but a nurse said “welcome back it is September 9 and you are in hospital.” She added: “I didn’t realise for weeks how sick I was and how close I came to dying. I couldn’t talk.” Mary Kelleher (55) of Ballyshoneen, Waterfall, Co Cork has sued INUA Hospitality Series 2 Ltd with offices at Little Island, Cork and trading as Muckross Park Hotel Killarney and specialist water treatment business, NCH Ireland Ltd trading as Chem Aqua with offices at Wilton Park House, Wilton, Place Dublin after she was exposed to and contracted Legionnaires Disease after using the hotel spa facilities when she was a guest there on August 6/7, 2015.

Opening the case, Mrs Kelleher’s counsel Pearse Sreenan SC instructed by Amy Connolly of Cantillon Solicitors told Mr Justice Kevin Cross liability was admitted in the case earlier this week and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Counsel said Mrs Kelleher suffered life-changing injuries and at one stage in hospital her husband was told nothing more could be done for her.

“Her quality of life has deteriorated and is never going to recover,” Counsel said as he told how she now suffers from considerable chronic fatigue.

He said Mrs Kelleher had flu-like symptoms which continued and she went to a doctor on August 12 and then again two days later but was admitted to hospital on August 16, 2015. Counsel said she was transferred to intensive care because of the severity of her symptoms.

Mrs Kellegher Counsel said had to be intubated and ventilated and Legionnaires disease, which is a pneumonia caused by a type of Legionella bacteria was confirmed.

When she woke from the induced come Counsel said she was in very poor condition and did not know where she was . She had to use a walking stick and needed intensive physiotherapy. She was discharged from hospital after 54 days on October 9, 2015.

Counsel said a HSE incident control team was convened on August 18 to look in to the matter. Mr Sreenan said bacteria was traced back to the hotel and the indoor cold spa pool was thought to be the most likely source of infection and decommissioned.

Counsel said Mrs Kelleher through a Freedom of Information request gained access to the report on the incident relating to herself and other suspected cases since 2010. He said she became very frustrated indeed and this fed in to her upset and distress about the incident.

The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues on Thursday.

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