News Reports About Internal VA Investigations on Legionnaires’ Outbreak Raise New Questions / Internal Investigations Could Shed Light On What VA Knew As Outbreak Occurred
Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), calling on the VA to make its internal investigations of the Legionnaires’ outbreak that occurred in Pittsburgh during 2012 available to the public. Recent reporting on the documents raises new questions about the VA’s response. Reporting indicates that these internal investigations took place in the weeks following the outbreak. Releasing the documents could provide more answers to impacted families and the public while shedding light on the information the VA had when the outbreak occurred.
“The families who lost loved ones during this Legionnaires’ outbreak deserve to have all the facts about what happened during that time period,” Senator Casey said. “Releasing these internal investigations could provide additional information to the families and shed new light on how the VA handled the outbreak. While the VA has taken steps towards reform since the outbreak there is still more to be done. In the coming months I’m hopeful that legislation I’ve cospsonsored with Senator Burr, that would require the VA to improve the way it reports infectious diseases, will come to the Senate floor.”
Senator Casey’s letter is below:
Dear Secretary Shinseki:
It has come to my attention through recent news articles that two internal investigations were completed by the Veterans Administration (VA) in December 2012 following the Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. While news reports highlight the contents of these investigations, I believe it is important for both my office and the public to know and understand the full findings of what the VA discovered during these internal investigations. Accordingly, I ask that you provide me with copies of these reports and release them to the public. I would also like to know if these reports were provided to and used by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) when they conducted their investigation into the outbreak.
What’s particularly concerning about these reports is the timing of these internal investigations, which news accounts indicate occurred only weeks after the initial outbreak. In the days and weeks following the initial outbreak, the impacted families and residents in Southwestern Pennsylvania searched for answers about what occurred and what was being done to prevent a similar outbreak in the future. It’s important to know if the findings of these internal investigations could have better informed my constituents as well as my office about what was occurring.
Furthermore, if there have been additional investigations into the outbreak by officials within the VA that have not been released the results of those investigations should be made public. The events surrounding the Legionnaires’ outbreak continues to be a significant concern for the families impacted by this outbreak, my constituents in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and for myself and other federal representatives. It is extremely important that we have all the facts into what led to this outbreak.
We must continue to ensure the safety of all our veterans, their families and the employees within the VA. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. I look forward to your response.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator