The Legionella response: Simply outrageous!
The Oakland VA hospital's foot-dragging response to a Legionella bacteria outbreak is among the Department of Veterans Affairs' most egregious failures to uphold this nation's sacred duty to all who've worn its uniform. The outbreak not only led to at least five veterans' deaths, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report says, it endangered the public at large — FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS!
The waterborne bacteria cause Legionnaire's disease, an often-fatal pneumonia. The report says VA officials, told by the CDC that Legionella was causing pneumonia at the Oakland hospital, waited two weeks before publicly acknowledging Legionnaire's cases there in mid-November.
Yet they knew of the Legionella problem long before that. From January 2011 to October 2012, hospital pipes were super-heated and flushed a half-dozen times. The Legionella outbreak was chronic and VA officials obviously didn't know how to get rid of the threat.
A hospital lab sometimes waited more than two days before informing an infection-prevention team of patients' Legionella-positive test results. And so rampant was the run of this deadly bacterium that it even contaminated an outdoor decorative fountain.
Oakland VA hospital officials, obviously more concerned with appearances and covering their rear ends than with veterans' and public health, did a reprehensibly poor job of addressing their Legionella problem.
Such an execrable episode cannot be tolerated. Heads must roll. And after a thorough housecleaning eliminates the Legionella, there must be an equally thorough housecleaning of every person responsible.
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 â 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.