(WASHINGTON)— American Federation of Government Employees released the following statement regarding the ongoing developments related to the Legionnaires outbreak at a VA (Veterans Affairs) Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
“We are deeply concerned about the reports we are receiving from the VA medical center in Pittsburgh, Pa.,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “In recent months, five of our nation’s heroes have contracted Legionnaires disease at the Oakland campus of the hospital, and one of which later died. The VA has just recently released this information, which we find to be unacceptable. AFGE is calling for an investigation from the highest levels to determine the origin of the outbreak and the implications for veterans down the road.”
“It is very troubling to us that this type of outbreak would occur at a facility that used to be a leader in Legionnaires research,” said AFGE District 3 National Vice President Keith Hill. “The researchers responsible for identifying the connection between the disease and the water systems were forced out of the VA, and their research destroyed, when VISN 4 Director Michael Moreland was the head of the facility. Now this issue resurfaces while he’s the regional director. He most certainly should be held responsible for the missteps and cover-up that are occurring.”
“It is time for VA leadership to be held responsible for the lack of oversight and inability to act quickly when first notified of this situation,” said AFGE National VA Council President Alma Lee. “Ultimately the buck stops with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. The lack of attention being paid to issues affecting patient care has our veterans paying the price. It’s time for Secretary Shinseki to step up and make serious strides toward getting to the bottom of what’s happening in the Pittsburgh VA medical system.”