The American Legion released a report yesterday saying that the VA Pittsburgh Health System responded well to the Legionella outbreaks in 2011 and 2012, but that the Veterans Administration also needs to allow for better communication among the VA hospitals during a crisis.
The American Legion deputy director for healthcare, Jacob Gadd, said, “From our understanding there was a lack of documentation on monitoring for periods of time, inconsistent communication, they did a root-cause analysis within the hospital there that found that not everyone understood their roles and responsibility with Legionella.” Gadd also said that high staff turnover rates contributed to the problem.
The Legion also found out through interviews with local veterans that most of them found out about the Legionella outbreak through the media and became very concerned when VA officials declined to comment on the situation.
The report released focuses the blame on the Washington office.
According to Gadd, “The facility had a press release ready to go out to the community to alert them that there was a Legionella problem.” However, the release was not approved by the administration in Washington and, hence, was never released.
The American Legion is encouraging the Veterans Administration to empower local VA hospitals to speak up whenever there are any problems because it can take weeks or even months to obtain approval for a press release from Washington.