Third vet's death tied to Legionnaires'

IfJohnMcChesney,63,diddieaftercontractingthepnemonia-likediseaseattheUniversityDrivefacility,thatpotentiallymakeshimthethirdpatientinthepasttwoyearstodieaftergettingLegionnaires'diseasethere.
ItalsomakesMr.McChesneypartofanexpandinginvestigationintotheLegionnaires'outbreakatthehospitalthathascaughtnationalattentioninpartbecausethehospitalusedtobehometoresearcherVictorYu,whoin1982firstconfirmedtheconnectionbetweenthespreadofthediseaseandwatersystems.
PartofthatexpandinginquiryislookingintowhetherLegionnnaires'casesalsooriginatedattheVA'sH.J.HeinzcampusnearAspinwall,asitethatcontainsanursinghomeforveterans.
VAspokesmanDavidCowgillonMondayconfirmedtheVAhasdetectedLegionella,thebacteriumthatcausesthedisease,inthewatersystematHeinz,andthatfacilitystillhaswaterrestrictionsineffectwhilethewatersystemisbeingtreatedwithchlorine.WaterrestrictionswerefinallyliftedatUniversityDriveonFridayaftertwoweeksofcleaning.
Mr.CowgillsaidinanemailthatoneofthefivecasesofLegionnaires'diseasethatoriginatedattheVAmayhaveoriginatedatHeinz,thoughthereisa"highprobability"thatitbeganatUniversityDriveforthatpatient.
Mr.CowgillsaidhecouldnotcommentonMr.McChesney'scase,thoughMr.McChesney'swife,Evelyn,saidshehasbeencontactedthreetimesinthepastfivedaysbyofficialsfromtheVAaboutherhusband'sdeathandrequeststotestthewaterinherColumbus,WarrenCounty,hometoseeifthatwasthesourceoftheLegionnaires'diseasehecontracted.
"IthinkhegotitattheVA,"shesaidMonday."Idon'tbelievethere'sanythingwrongwithmywater."
Mr.McChesneyhadsufferedfromkidneyandhearttroublethatresultedfromcontactwiththechemicaldefoliantAgentOrangeduringhis18-monthstintintheinfantryinVietnam.
Hediedafterhiswifeof18yearstookhimtoSt.VincentHealthCenterinErieonOct.1becausehewascoughingandwheezingbadly.ShesaidanemergencyroomdoctortheresaidMr.McChesneytestedpositiveforLegionnaires'disease.
Thatwaslessthan14daysafterhehadspentsixdaysovertwovisitstotheUniversityDrivefacilityinlateSeptember,wherehewasbeingseenforheartproblems.Legionnaires'diseasetypicallyhasuptoa14-dayincubationperiod.
Mrs.McChesney,whohasbeenfollowingthestoriesabouttheoutbreakoverthepasttwoweeks,wasincensedbywhatshehasread.
"Whoeverwasresponsibleforthis,theyshouldbeheldaccountable,"shesaid."Imean,thesufferingmyhusbandwentthroughfor31/2weeks[beforehedied]wasneedlessanditwasbecausetheyjustneglectedthings."
"Ifeelmyhusbandandothersoldiersservedtheircountryandtheydeservethebestcarepossible,"sheadded.
TheoutbreakwasfirstrevealedbytheVAPittsburghHealthcareSystemonNov.16,whenitsaidthatithadconfirmedjustfourcasesofthediseaselinkedtotheUniversityDrivehospital,anditsaidallfourpatientshadrecovered.
ItlatersaidonNov.22thatafifthpersonhadcontractedthediseasefromthehospital,thoughitomittedfromthenewsreleasethatthefifthpatienthaddied.Itwasn'tuntilFridaythattheVAtoldtheAlleghenyCountyHealthDepartmentthatthatperson--whomtheVArefusestoidentify--haddiedaftercontractingthedisease.
Inaddition,thechildrenofasecondveteran,JohnCiarolla,83,toldthePittsburghPost-GazettethathediedlastyearaftercontractingthediseasefollowingstaysatbothUniversityDriveandtheVA'sH.J.Heinznursinghome.
TheU.S.CentersforDiseaseControlandPreventionisinvestigatinghowtheoutbreakoccurred,andU.S.Sen.BobCasey,D-Pa.,hasaskedVeteransAffairsSecretaryEricShinsekiforareportonwhytheoutbreakoccurred.
Dr.Yuandhisresearchcolleague,JanetStout,whobothlefttheVAafteradisputewithmanagementin2006and2007,respectively,believethattheoutbreakisduetotheVA'sfailuretoproperlymanageandmaintainthewatertreatmentsystemtheyfirstinstalledatthehospitalin1993.TheVAbelievesthetreatmentsystemiswhatfailed.
U.S.Rep.BradMiller,D-N.C.,waschairmanoftheHouseInvestigationsandOversightSubcommitteein2008whenitheldahearingintothewaythatDr.YuandDr.Stoutwerepushedoutofthehospital,andhowtheVAdestroyed30yearsworthoffrozenisolatesofLegionnaires'diseasethattheresearchershadcollected.
Mr.MillerbelievedthenthattheVAseriouslyerredinforcingDr.YuandDr.Stoutoutanddestroyingtheirisolatecollection.Nowtheactionslookevenworse,hesaid,sinceitwasDr.Stoutwhooversawthewatertreatmentsystematthehospital.
"Attheveryleast,[losingDr.YuandDr.Stout]compromisedthathospital'sabilitytodeal"withtheoutbreak,Mr.MillersaidMonday."Andtheymayhavelostthepeoplewhowerebestathandling[thewatertreatment]system."
AnotherpartofthestorythathasbotheredMrs.McChesneyandothersisthattheVAknewasearlyasJunethatithadaproblemwiththewatertreatmentsystem--knownasacopper-silverionizationsystem.TheVAcalledinaconsultantthen,whorecommendedinJulyaseriesofstepstomakeitworkproperly.
ButtheVAdidnotdoanythinginresponsetotherecommendationsuntilsometimeinOctober,whenitcalledtheconsultantbackinandaskedtheconsultanttoadjustthecopper-silversystemtoworkproperly.
"Imean,forthemtobethatnegligent,"Mrs.McChesneysaid."Theyneverevenwarnedtheirpatients."
BecausetheLegionellabacteriummustgetintoapatient'slungs,oneofthemostcommonwaysitinfectsapersoniswhiletakingashower,whenthemoistmistfromashowerisinhaled.Mrs.McChesneybelievesherhusbandtookatleasttwoshowersduringafour-daystayatthehospitalfromSept.18toSept.21.Hereturnedforatwo-dayvisitattheVASept.26and27andthenwenthomeafteraprocedure.
About8,000to10,000peopleeachyeararehospitalizedwiththedisease.ButtheCentersforDiseaseControlandotherexpertsbelievemanymorecasesoccureachyearthatgoundiagnosedassimplepneumoniaorotherafflictions.Legionnaires'diseasecanbefatalin5percentto30percentofcases,dependingonwhoitstrikesandwhereitisacquired.
AfterMr.McChesneywasadmittedtoSt.VincentonOct.1,hisconditiongotworse,anditwastheheartandkidneyconditionshehadsufferedfromformuchofhislifethatweretheofficialcausesofdeathonOct.23.ButhiswifesaidhisdoctorsacknowledgedtoherthatitwastheLegionnaires'diseasethatexacerbatedthem,leadingtohisdeath.
Mrs.McChesneysaidVAofficialstoldherinlateOctoberthattheywouldsendbottlestohertocollectsamplesofherhomewatertotest.
Butshenevergotthebottlesandnoonefollowedupuntilthepastfivedays,aftertheoutbreakhadbeenpubliclyrevealed.
OnThursday,aVAofficialcalledandaskedifshecouldsendMrs.McChesneyakittotestherhome'swater.Then,onFriday,RobertMuder,directoroftheinfectiousdiseasesectionatUniversityDrive,calledherandleftamessagethathewantedtotalktoher.Andfinally,onMonday,anotherVAofficialcalledandaskediftheVAcouldsendasocialworkertoherhometotestherwater.
"I'mnotsureIwantthemtocome,orifIwanttotalktothem,"Mrs.McChesneysaid.
Now,shesaid,she'sfocusedongettingtothebottomofwhatcausedherhusband'sdeath,tohonorhismemory.
"Idoknowthathewouldnotwantmetojustletthisgo,"shesaid.


Readmore:http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/3rd-vets-death-tied-to-legionnaires-664816/#ixzz2EBpqFLod


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