A woman who went to Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry to celebrate her wedding anniversary ended up in an induced coma after contracting Legionnaires’ Disease after using the hotel’s spa facilities, the High Court has heard.
Mary Kelleher (55) was in the coma for three weeks and was discharged from hospital after 54 days in a wheelchair.
She and her husband Jer Kelleher, of Ballyshoneen, Waterfall, Co Cork, decided to “splash out” and stay in the five-star luxury hotel to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in advance of special Mass and party at their home.
She told the court on Wednesday that she went to the spa after checking-in on August 6th, 2015 and “tried everything” including the pool, sauna, steam room and hot and cold spa pools. She said the couple were “on top of the world and very happy” as they checked-out but within days she felt unwell, had aching muscles and was very 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.
Mrs Kelleher went to a doctor on August 12th, 2015 and a viral infection was suspected. She said it was “like my muscles were losing power”. When she went to another doctor on August 16th, 2015, she was told she had pneumonia and was transferred to Bon Secours Hospital in Cork.
“I can remember being admitted and put in a ward but I don’t remember anything else,” she said.
She had to be intubated and ventilated and Legionnaires Disease, a pneumonia caused by a type of Legionella bacteria, was confirmed. When she woke from the induced coma, she thought it was the next day but she said a nurse told her: ‘Welcome back, it is September 9th and you are in hospital’.
“I didn’t realise for weeks how sick I was and how close I came to dying. I couldn’t talk.”
It is claimed that Mrs Kelleher was in very poor condition and did not know where she was, had to use a walking stick and needed intensive physiotherapy. She was discharged on October 9th, 2015.
Mrs Kelleher, 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 while she was a guest there on August 6th and 7th, 2015.
Opening the case, Pearse Sreenan SC, instructed by Amy Connolly of Cantillon Solicitors, for Mrs Kelleher, told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that liability was admitted in the case 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 since and is never going to recover, and she now suffers from considerable chronic fatigue, he said.
Mr Sreenan said a HSE incident control team was convened on August 18th, 2015 to look into the matter. Bacteria was traced back to the hotel and the indoor cold spa pool was thought to be the most likely source of infection and it was decommissioned, he said.
Through a Freedom of Information request, his client gained access to the report on the incident relating to herself and other suspected cases since 2010. She became “very frustrated” and this fed into her upset and distress about the incident.
The case continues on Thursday.