Casey Statement on Developments in Pittsburgh VA Legionnaires Outbreak

Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the below statement following news that a patient sickened during a Legionnaires outbreak at the Pittsburgh VA passed away:

"This is a terrible tragedy. Our nation's veterans make great sacrifices to serve this country and they deserve the best care. The VA should act expeditiously to investigate these cases to ensure that every appropriate measure is put in place so this never happens again. The veterans at this hospital and their families deserve answers as to how this happened and immediate steps must be taken to ensure veterans at this hospital and others across Pennsylvania have access to clean water."

Earlier this week Senator Casey wrote to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to express concern about the situation in Pittsburgh and call on the agency to take steps to ensure veterans in Pittsburgh and across the Commonwealth have access to clean water.

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter is below:

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

I am writing to express my concern with the recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.  It is my understanding that these cases could have been prevented had the VA been appropriately monitoring its water purification system. 

Pennsylvania is home to a network of eight VA medical centers and additional community based out-patient clinics that service approximately 270,000 veterans annually.  It is our obligation to ensure that these veterans receive the highest standards of care possible.  It is a true disservice that veterans may come to the VA seeking help and potentially contract an additional medical condition, in a manner that is proven to be preventable.

I understand that changes have been proposed to address these issues at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. I am writing to ask if there are any standard protocols in place to guarantee that these water systems are appropriately monitored throughout the VA system and to understand what steps the Department of Veterans Affairs can take to ensure that this never happens again.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.