PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The head of VA healthcare system in Pittsburgh is now out, placed Friday on administrative leave.
The VA in Washington says Terry Gerigk Wolf will be on leave pending “the completion of administrative actions related to the legionella outbreak.”
It appears Wolf may pay for sins the local VA leadership was accused of last fall when the House Veterans Affairs committee came to Pittsburgh for hearings.
“In Pittsburgh, VA officials knew they had a Legionnaire’s disease outbreak on their hands, but they kept it secret for more than a year,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House VA Committee.
Later, KDKA would learn it was worse than that.
Documents from committee investigators, emails and internal reviews show while local VA leaders were publicly blaming an old water system for the spread of the disease, human error was actually at fault.
“Either the employees there were not being properly trained or they just weren’t carrying out the monitoring functions and testing functions that they needed to carry out,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle.
Internal reviews found hospital staff failed to keep the hot water temperatures hot enough, and to keep the water system maintained.
Internal VA emails also suggest that more than a year before they went public about Legionnaire’s disease, their top physician suspected a problem and recommended everyone use bottled water.
Yet no patient was alerted about water concerns for more than 14 months.
At least 22 patients got sick, six died.
The VA in Washington released only a bare bones statement Friday, saying it has initiated “administrative actions related to the legionella outbreak” with Wolf on leave pending the completion of whatever those actions may be.