Reporting Harold Hayes
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s a new investigation into Legionnaire’s Disease at the VA Hospital in Oakland and whether it could have been prevented.
The investigation comes after Pennsylvania’s two U.S. Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey demanded answers, and after a CBS News investigation raised more questions.
“It is critically important for the Office of Inspector General to conduct a thorough and complete investigation of this very serious issue,” Toomey said in a statement. “I’m pleased to hear their review will begin in a matter of days.”
Maureen Ciarolla told CBS News about the struggle of her father, 83-year-old John Ciarolla of North Versailles in his battle with Legionnaire’s Disease. A battle he lost.
“He never came off the ventilator and that’s where he stayed; he never recovered from that,” said Ciarolla.
She also told them the VA asked her to see whether her own home may have been the cause of the disease.
But a CBS News investigation found that in December of 2011, a consulting firm found Legionella in a water system that wasn’t properly maintained and a second company called in was never told the hospital had a Legionella problem.
After an outcry from Pittsburgh and Washington, the VA Inspector General has agreed to conduct an independent investigation.
Another local family who sued the VA over what they knew and when they knew it had mixed emotions about the new investigation.
“Well, I’m sure Mr. Nicklas’ family is glad that there’s light being shed on this and that there’s an investigation; but you know, from what we’re now learning, this could have been done long before Mr. Nicklas was even a patient at the Veterans Administration Hospital,” said Harry Cohen, the Nicklas’ family attorney.
“He trusted that the VA would give him the best care, and unfortunately, the VA betrayed that trust,” David Nicklas said when his family decided reluctantly to go to court not long after his father’s death.
The VA will only say that the latest remediation efforts have been successful.
Meanwhile, the Inspector General’s investigation is set to begin Monday.