Sen. Bob Casey's response to the preventable deaths of veterans from Legionnaires' disease ("Casey Recommends Changes at VA Facilities Here," Feb. 14) effectively seeks to avoid and evade taking any action that would address the negligence and alleged cover-up that caused and prolonged the crisis. Vacuous recommendations about "best practices," following sampling protocol and modifying policy, and improving internal and external communication could have been written by the VA leadership responsible for the suffering of veterans and their families.
The truth is that the VA had an effective system it failed to maintain. It bungled remediation efforts as it attempted to maintain secrecy and blame the families of veterans who were victims of ineptness and deceit.
Allegations of doctoring data were made at the Feb. 5 hearing. The VA failed to send people to the hearing with knowledge of medical center activity related to the crisis, instead sending the Veterans Integrated Services Network director, Michael Moreland, as well as two employees of VA Central Office and a witness from the Centers for Disease Control who opined that past success had made the VA complacent.
Mr. Casey is surely aware that the prior success in preventing Legionnaires' was due to the work of Drs. Janet Stout and Victor Yu who were driven from the VA by Mr. Moreland when he was director of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. They were asked to testify as expert witnesses by the House Subcommittee on Oversight at its Feb. 5 proceeding.
The VA allegedly attempted to silence local union president Kathi Dahl, also called to testify before the committee. She testified that the VA was reluctant to properly test employees for Legionella.
Mr. Casey should be asked how intimidation improves communication!