Pittsburgh VA had most Legionella in region among samples reviewed
The Department of Veterans Affairs' hospitals in the Pittsburgh area found far more Legionella bacteria than counterparts throughout the region, according to test samples from as far back as 2006 reviewed by the Tribune-Review.
More than 160 samples tested by the VA Pittsburgh hospitals since 2007 contained the potentially deadly bacteria, including the University Drive hospital in Oakland, the H.J. Heinz campus in O'Hara and the Highland Drive facility, which is being phased out. About 100 positive samples were at Oakland, about 40 at Highland Drive and about 20 at O'Hara.
None of the five other hospitals in the Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 4 region that supplied records had more than nine positive samples, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Trib requested Legionella test results from the VA Pittsburgh's three facilities and the nine other medical centers in VISN4. Headquartered in Pittsburgh and headed by director Michael Moreland, the region includes most of Pennsylvania and parts or all of five neighboring states. Six hospitals, including Pittsburgh, provided the records.
The VA Philadelphia tests had nine Legionella-positive samples from 2008 to 2013. On one of those occasions — Sept. 23, 2009 — three of five samples tested positive, according to the records. VA national guidelines say its hospitals should implement anti-Legionella action plans if more than 30 percent of sample sites within the facility contain Legionella.
That September 2009 test was the only one outside of a Pittsburgh hospital to surpass the 30 percent threshold, records show.
Philadelphia stepped up its testing this year, checking more than 150 samples in January and February, one of which contained the bacteria, according to the hospital's records.
Six samples at the VA hospital in Lebanon tested positive, two in 2012 and one each in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011.
The Coatesville VA in Chester County found no Legionella in its annual tests of 10 to 14 samples from 2008 through 2011. None of the bacteria turned up in any of the 30 samples tested in 2012, according to records.
VA hospitals in Altoona and Wilmington, Del., also found no Legionella, records show.
The VISN4 hospitals that have not provided records under the Trib's FOIA request include Butler, which announced a positive Legionella test last year; Erie; Wilkes-Barre; and Clarksburg, W.Va.
Staff writer Adam Smeltz contributed to this report. Mike Wereschagin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
- 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
- Author of Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its effects in Carnegie
- Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
- East Liberty man charged with Larimer shooting
- Proposed 8-story apartment complex called too tall in North Side’s Garden Theater area
- Pittsburgh police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
- Peduto pushes for affordable housing in East Liberty redevelopment
- Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending
- Former Steelers lineman Hartings to be honored for youth volunteering
- Newsmaker: Mark Rubenstein