The Michigan Court of Appeals has agreed to hear a dispute between the Michigan health department and authorities who are investigating crimes in the Flint water crisis.
Gov. Rick Snyder is challenging an order by a judge that prohibits McLaren Hospital and the Genesee County Health Department from talking to the state about new cases of Legionnaire's disease.
“We are very pleased that today the Michigan Court of Appeals granted our request to hear the Department's case,” says Jennifer Eisner, spokeswoman with the Michigan Department of Health of Human Services. “While the protective orders are still in effect, we look forward to getting this important public health issue resolved in an expedited manner.”
In a brief order Wednesday, the appeals court says it will hear the dispute. New court filings, arguments and a decision could take weeks.
The attorney general's office says orders barring contact with the state health department are necessary to protect its investigation. Spokeswoman Andrea Bitely says public health is not at risk.
A spokeswoman with Flint’s McLaren Hospital noted that Wednesday’s “no contest” to a “willful neglect of duty” charge by a former state health department official shows the reason for the protective order.
“It is now confirmed that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) did not appropriately respond to, monitor or share information with the healthcare facilities, physicians, patients and residents of Flint, as they are required to do by law, but rather, took action to cover up evidence of an ongoing epidemic of Legionnaire's disease, which MDHHS has linked to the change in the City of Flint’s source water supply,” said McLaren spokeswoman Rosemary Plorin, in a written statement.
At least seven Legionnaire's cases have been reported this year in Genesee County, after 91 in 2014 and 2015.