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Forest Hills tower cleared in Legionnaires disease probe

By Mark Hallum

The city Department of Health has found that Parker Towers in Forest Hills is clear of Legionnaires disease after a series of tests were conducted in response to two cases at the Queens Boulevard complex, according to City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).

Two residents were struck by Legionnaires in the past couple of months, including 87-year-old Lenore Velazquez, who died of the disease. The other victim made a full recovery.

“I am glad to report that the NYC Department of Health informed my office of a negative test for Legionella bacteria in Parker Towers at 104-60 Queens Blvd.” Koslowitz announced on Facebook. “The test results show no Legionella bacteria in the building’s water system and it is now safe to use the water as you usually would.”

The news should come with a sigh of relief from residents of Parker Tower.

DOH held a meeting in the community room of the building in late September to inform concerned tenants of the risks of Legionnaires and how they could avoid the bacteria, which is spread through water steam and is an pneumonia-like condition which primarily affects the elderly and those with a compromised immune system.

According to Linda Brown, Velazquez’s niece and also a nurse who lives in Bayside, her condition deteriorated in just three days.

“On Sunday, she was just starting to feel sick with chills – no fever or anything,” Brown said. “By the time I got to her on Tuesday night, her breathing was terrible and I brought her in that day to LIJ and she passed Friday night.”

Brown said her mother and father, in their 70s and 80s, also live in the building and she feared for their well-being.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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