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Michigan’s top doctor wanted to ‘rope in’ health department during legionella outbreak

Special Agent Jeff Seipenko reads from text messages retrieved from Dr. Eden Wells phone during hearings in Genesee County court. (Photo Credit: Drew Moore/WEYI)

Testimony continued against Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eden Wells in Genesee County courts on Wednesday.

During the investigation, dozens of text messages were recovered from the state-issued cell phone of Wells.

Special Agent Jeff Seipenko testified that a few of the text messages were considered significant.

One exchange happened in December of 2015 between Wells and another Health and Human Services employee after the Genesee County Health Department reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency for help with a growing Legionnaires outbreak.

The messages show that prior to GCHD asking for assistance, Wells and MDHHS asked the health department not to ask for assistance from the agency.

Seipenko read part of the messages from Wells after she found out the EPA was contacted.

“It’s like we never had a conversation. Now what do we do Sue? Why is this nurse contacting EPA without including MDHHS. We need to rope in GCHD,” The text messages said.

The timeline is important because the state of Michigan didn’t notify of the public of the Legionnaires outbreak until a hastily called press conference a month later.

The hearings against Wells are nearing completion. Special Prosecutor Todd Flood is set to call one more witness before he rests his case.

Hearings will pick back up again on April 23.

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