Pittsburgh VA had Legionella bug 5 years before disclosure

Micheal Moreland VISN 4 Director doesn't need to worry about getting Legionnaires' disease from the Pittsburgh VA, because his office is off campus at the luxurious Del Monte center! More on VAmalpractice.info

This is NOT from the Pittsburgh Tribune

 VA had Legionella bug 5 years before disclosure

6/15/2013 Pittsburgh Tribune

By Luis Fábregas, Adam Smeltz and Mike Wereschagin

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4177912-74/legionella-patients-workers#ixzz2WOSlEMZU

Legionella bacteria flourished in the water lines in rooms housing the most vulnerable patients at the VA Pittsburgh hospital in Oakland at least five years before officials disclosed a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in November 2012, a Tribune-Review investigation has found.

VA workers found potentially deadly Legionella in at least 30 percent of faucets, shower heads and public water fountains tested at the University Drive hospital on seven occasions between September 2007 and November 2011, according to documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act. The 30 percent threshhold is supposed to automatically trigger a local action plan under Department of Veterans Affairs rules.

The bug was so rampant that a report dated Sept. 21, 2007, showed Legionella in 17 of 19 samples taken from surgical and medical intensive-care units at the VA hospital in Oakland. The positive results gave rise to a years-long battle with the bacteria that by 2010 appeared out of control: 75 percent of ICU rooms tested in July that year had Legionella.

“Whenever you have numerous sites within a facility growing Legionella, there is a direct risk to patients,” said Dr. Joseph S. Cervia, a Legionnaires’ expert and clinical professor of medicine at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in Hempstead, N.Y….

 

 

Pittsburgh VA had most Legionella in region among samples reviewed

6/15/2013 Pittsburgh Tribune

By Mike Wereschagin  Published: Saturday, June 15, 2013, 9:26 p.m.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4190522-74/samples-legionella-records#ixzz2WORcq8R7

Pittsburgh area found far more Legionella bacteria than counterparts throughout the region, according to test samples from as far back as 2006 reviewed by the Tribune-Review.

More than 160 samples tested by the VA Pittsburgh hospitals since 2007 contained the potentially deadly bacteria, including the University Drive hospital in Oakland, the H.J. Heinz campus in O’Hara and the Highland Drive facility, which is being phased out. About 100 positive samples were at Oakland, about 40 at Highland Drive and about 20 at O’Hara.

None of the five other hospitals in the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 4 region that supplied records had more than nine positive samples, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Trib requested Legionella test results from the VA Pittsburgh’s three facilities and the nine other medical centers in VISN4. Headquartered in Pittsburgh and headed by director Michael Moreland, the region includes most of Pennsylvania and parts or all of five neighboring states. Six hospitals, including Pittsburgh, provided the records…

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4190522-74/samples-legionella-records#ixzz2WORLcopN
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

 

 

Adam Smeltz, Luis Fábregas, and Mike Wereschagin have done an outstanding job of investigating the Legionnaire’s outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA, and the Pittsburgh VA’ s leadership’s less than forthright handling of this tragedy. While veterans are sometimes critical of the press and  are often upset by some of the examples that a “free press” brings to our doors each day, the investigative journalism that the Pittsburgh Tribune has done into this cover up, is exactly what our forefathers were thinking about when they made “freedom of the press” part of the constitution.

This series has shown that our government, after more than two centuries, will not always be honest with us. I say this not as someone who is paranoid that there is a giant conspiracy within our government, but but as someone who recognizes that any part of the government may be taken over by a bureaucrat, who has unfortunately tuned into WIFM, what’s in it for me, instead of what in it for the public. When these misguided bureaucrats place their interests, ahead of their public responsibilities it is highly unlikely that we can rely on the government to disclose its malfeasance to us.

In the case at hand the VISN 4 Director and his staff have little to fear from the Legionella in the water, because they don’t drink it. After closing down the special pathogens laboratory, when he was the Director of the Pittsburgh VA, Mr. Moreland became Director of VISN 4. He promptly moved the VISN 4 headquarters off campus to the DelMonte Center, which  was leased at a cost that was 40% above similar class A office space in Pittsburgh. In a city that has two VA campuses, that have undergone extensive reconstruction, one wonders why, the VISN 4 staff could not find space at one of these locations in  a government owned building, that would be less expensive than renting at the DelMonte Center? While the VISN 4 staff can not see either of the Pittsburgh are VA campuses from the DelMonte Center, perhaps their efficiency is enhanced by the excellent views of  both Pittsburgh Stadiums and the proximity to fine dining and drinking establishments? Or maybe they moved so they wouldn’t have to drink the water?  We wouldn’t even think to ask these things without the Pittsburgh Tribune’s investigation, which  is why we need a free press, and that is why veterans, particularly those veterans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New Jersey who are in VISN 4 should be grateful, that in an age when most news “reporting” consists of repacking new releases, Adam Smeltz, Luis Fábregas, and Mike Wereschagin have spent almost a year doing real investigative journalism and written dozens of pieces on this. When we enlisted, or were commissioned, we took an oath that required us to uphold the constitution, seeing this series should remind us how important freedom of the press was,  is and will always be.

W. Robb Graham

 

Pittsburgh VA had Legionella bug 5 years before disclosure-More Good News From Michael Moreland & VISN 4-from TribLIVE

Pitts burgh VA InfectionVA had Legionella bug 5 years before disclosure | TribLIVE.

Legionella bacteria flourished in the water lines in rooms housing the most vulnerable patients at the VA Pittsburgh hospital in Oakland at least five years before officials disclosed a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in November 2012, a Tribune-Review investigation has found.

VA workers found potentially deadly Legionella in at least 30 percent of faucets, shower heads and public water fountains tested at the University Drive hospital on seven occasions between September 2007 and November 2011, according to documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act. The 30 percent threshhold is supposed to automatically trigger a local action plan under Department of Veterans Affairs rules.

The bug was so rampant that a report dated Sept. 21, 2007, showed Legionella in 17 of 19 samples taken from surgical and medical intensive-care units at the VA hospital in Oakland. The positive results gave rise to a years-long battle with the bacteria that by 2010 appeared out of control: 75 percent of ICU rooms tested in July that year had Legionella…



Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4177912-74/legionella-patients-workers#ixzz2WLMMo61q 
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Pittsburgh VA had most Legionella in region among samples reviewed | TribLIVE

Pittsburgh VA had most Legionella in region among samples reviewed | TribLIVE.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospitals in the Pittsburgh area found far more Legionella bacteria than counterparts throughout the region, according to test samples from as far back as 2006 reviewed by the Tribune-Review.

More than 160 samples tested by the VA Pittsburgh hospitals since 2007 contained the potentially deadly bacteria, including the University Drive hospital in Oakland, the H.J. Heinz campus in O’Hara and the Highland Drive facility, which is being phased out. About 100 positive samples were at Oakland, about 40 at Highland Drive and about 20 at O’Hara.

None of the five other hospitals in the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 4 region that supplied records had more than nine positive samples, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request



Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4190522-74/samples-legionella-records#ixzz2WLLjnuad 
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Daughters say patient safety compromised at Dallas VA Hospital | wfaa.com Dallas – Fort Worth

Daughters say patient safety compromised at Dallas VA Hospital | wfaa.com Dallas – Fort Worth.

Patient safety at the Dallas Veterans Administration Hospital is again being called into question.

Considered to be the agency’s worst facility in 2004, the Dallas VA Hospital has received more than 30 certification agency complaints in the last three years.

And now, there are two more.

Two daughters agreed to discuss the deaths of their fathers and the conditions they say no veteran should have to endure.

The Veterans Administration is the largest health care system in the nation, serving more than eight million veterans a year. VA officials in Washington D.C. pledge “to never compromise the safety, security or well-being of veterans

VA Executives Face Big Pay Cuts if Claims Backlog Isn’t Fixed – Nextgov.com

VA Executives Face Big Pay Cuts if Claims Backlog Isn’t Fixed – Nextgov.com.

Senior executives in the Veterans Affairs Department could face a 25 percent pay cut unless they substantially reduce the number of disability claims backlogged for four months or longer by next summer. That provision was included in the 2014 Military Construction-VA funding bill passed by the House Tuesday.

The House adopted an amendment by Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., which would limit the pay of senior VA officials to 75 percent of their salary from July 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2014, “unless as of July 1, 2014, the percentage of disability compensation claims that are more than 125 days old is less than or equal to 40 percent.” On Monday VA reported claims backlogged 125 days or longer totaled 569,418 — 66.2 percent of all 860,203 pending claims…

VA leader Michael Moreland praised despite Legionnaires’ outbreak – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

VA leader praised despite Legionnaires’ outbreak – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

When U.S. Veterans Affairs officials submitted regional director Michael Moreland’s nomination for the prestigious Presidential Distinguished Rank Award sometime before March 26, 2012, they provided a glowing report.

The four-page narrative of Mr. Moreland’s nomination, obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, praises him for his career administrative accomplishments, for saving money by starting an independent transplant program and for helping VA administrators across the country cut costs.

It also noted: “Under Mr. Moreland’s leadership, [his region] VISN 4 obtained exceptional results by meeting or exceeding all clinical and organizational performance measures during Fiscal Year 2011.”

That fiscal year, which ended in September 2011, includes the beginning of the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA, which started in February 2011 and continued until November 2012. It killed at least five veterans and sickened another 17.



Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/va-leader-praised-despite-outbreak-690695/#ixzz2VjxKi0ad

VA networks besieged by foreign attackers, IG says | Federal Times | federaltimes.com

VA networks besieged by foreign attackers, IG says | Federal Times | federaltimes.com.

Foreign attackers have repeatedly penetrated Veterans Affairs Department networks for at least the past three years, potentially gaining access to millions of unencrypted veterans records and other sensitive databases, according to House lawmakers and VA inspector general auditors.

The timeline and nature of the attacks is unclear, but VA auditors told a House subcommittee Tuesday that in one instance attackers gained access to email accounts of VA senior leaders. VA doesn’t know how the attackers gained access to its network or what data was stolen because the attackers encrypted VA’s data as they siphoned it out of the network, said Michael Bowman, director of information technology and security audit division within VA’s IG office.

Are VA Employees Working Full-Time for Unions Hurting Patient Care? – FedSmith.com

Are VA Employees Working Full-Time for Unions Hurting Patient Care? – FedSmith.com.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, both senior members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, this week questioning the number of federal employees in the agency who are spending all of their time working on behalf of a union while receiving their full salary and benefits of a federal employee.

The practice of federal employees receiving a federal salary and benefits while working for a union is known as “official time” and is not unique to the Department of Veterans Affairs. As noted in a previous article on the FedSmith site, legislation has been introduced to require more accurate reporting of official time by union representatives in the federal government. The practice of official time is outlined in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 which put the federal labor relations program under a statute instead of an executive order. The idea of having the federal government pay for union representatives’ time was, at least in part, a way to avoid having a “closed shop” in agencies under which federal employees would be required to pay dues to the union elected to represent them.

The letter from the two Senators notes that 188 federal employees have been identified as working 100% of their time on behalf of a union. The letter was sent one day after the White House said President Barack Obama is “deadly serious” about wiping out a huge backlog in veterans disability benefits claims.

The letter also notes that the agency employed at least 85 nurses, some making more than $100,000 per year, who were spending 100% of their time working on behalf of the union while, at the same time, the agency was listing openings for hundreds of nursing positions to be filled. To put this into perspective, ourindividual federal employee salary database notes that there are approximately 9500 VA nurses making at least $100,000 per year and a number making more than $150,000 per year in the Veterans Health Administration. The highest paid nurse in the organization was listed as making more than $196,000 in 2012 and about 175 nurses working for the Veterans Health Administration make at least $150,000 per year. More than 9000 nurses in the VA made more than $100,000 per year in 2012. The individuals who are full-time union representatives were not identified in the letter

Yellow Hammer Politics » Roby touts amendment to prohibit bonuses for VA executives

Yellow Hammer Politics » Roby touts amendment to prohibit bonuses for VA executives.

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama’s second congressional district took to the House floor to urge her colleagues to vote for an amendment to an appropriations bill that would forbid bonuses for Department of Veterans Affairs executives while more than 800,000 veterans await the bureaucracy to resolve disability claims. Roby sponsored the amendment along with Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA)….