Following the recent outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at the Pittsburgh VA Health System, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has sent a letter to the inspector general of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
“We need to know what happened, why it happened and what steps will the VA take to prevent this from happening again,” he said.
Five patients contracted legionella bacteria at the hospital over the past several months, and there was one fatality. The family of the deceased is suing the federal government; their lawyer said it appears that the VA failed to clean its water system of the bacteria despite the previous Legionnaire's illnesses there, and despite warnings from experts.
Senator Casey is also concerned about warnings that should have prevented this outbreak. He asks the inspector general if the V.A. Pittsburgh Healthcare System was adequately maintaining their water treatment system, then asks what steps need to be taken to prevent future outbreaks, and what actions are recommended moving forward.
“This won’t be the only investigation, nor should it be, but this is one of the key, critical investigations to making determinations about what happened here, why did you have this outbreak, why was this water system compromised? Why did someone die?”
U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-14) has also weighed in – he has asked the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs to conduct an investigative hearing into the.
“We need an independent set of eyes to examine the facts surrounding the outbreak of Legionnaires Disease at the Pittsburgh VA,” said Doyle, “that’s why I’ve contacted the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and asked them to determine the causes of the outbreak and ensure that something like this never happens again.”
Senator Casey said when something like this happens, it undermines the veteran’s healthcare system, and that those who have fought for our country deserve better, though he pointed out the V.A. does a good job, for the most part.
Legionnaires Disease is caused by inhaling water vapor or mist containing Legionella bacteria, it can’t be transmitted person-to-person.