Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

House Committee to Investigate Oakland Va Legionnaires' Deaths

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

House Committee to Investigate Oakland Va Legionnaires' Deaths

Article excerpt

In the wake of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that may have killed three veterans at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs hospital, a U.S. House of Representatives' committee said Thursday it will investigate the issue at a hearing next month.

Adding to the scrutiny over the outbreak on the Pittsburgh VA, which already faced an investigation by the VA's inspector general, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs will hold a hearing Feb. 5 in Washington D.C.

The subcommittee hearing will include testimony from someone at the Pittsburgh VA who is "most knowledgeable and able to answer questions," said U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, who is not on the subcommittee but requested the hearing along with U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.

Mr. Doyle said subcommittee staff told him the hearing may also include testimony from water treatment experts called in to help the Pittsburgh VA with the outbreak over the last year, as well as Victor Yu and Janet Stout, former Pittsburgh VA researchers.

Dr. Yu and Dr. Stout, both renowned Legionnaires' experts who left in 2006 and 2007, respectively, in a dispute with the Pittsburgh VA's management, believe the outbreak was the result of the VA's poor management and maintenance in recent years of the water treatment system they installed at the hospital in 1993.

Dr. Yu could not be reached Thursday but a spokeswoman for Dr. Stout said she has not been invited to the hearing.

Mr. Murphy said he also hopes to hear at the hearing from officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- which assisted the Pittsburgh VA in analyzing the outbreak -- as well as "objective" researchers.

The official witness list was not yet available, but Mr. Doyle, who hopes to be able to attend the hearing to listen, said: "As they say, a hearing is only as good as your witnesses and the questions asked. …

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