Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh

Veterans Affairs ICU At Pittsburgh VA Reopens

Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh

Benjamin KrauseAbatement of mold at Veterans Affairs’ Pittsburgh VA hospital, which resulted in a closure of the general medical ICU and its sleep lab, has now allowed for that hospital section to reopen.

Veterans who experienced complications during their stay in a Pittsburgh VA ICU should consider consulting a private doctor to be sure those complications were not the result of the mold. Family members with veterans who died should request copies of the medical records to see if the veteran died due to the mold.


Pittsburgh VA was the center of a Legionella bacteria cover up in 2012 that impacted the health of numerous veterans. The facility trie to cover up the scandal for some years before admitting it happened. According to the Tribune-Review graphic above, the attempted coverup of Legionella was certainly a long process where the agency eventually failed.

RELATED: Legionnaires’ Victims Sue Pittsburgh VA

This time, with the mold, technicians found the mod in an air handler during routine maintenance. VA claims Pittsburg VA doctors have not diagnosed any complications from the mold, but that does not mean such complications did not exist.

Do not trust that VA will ever provide a straightforward assessment of problems at any facility. If you do trust that VA will inform you (the public) in a transparent manner about any adverse event, you are a fool. And I have ocean front property in Oklahoma to sell you.


Director of the infection prevention unit, Dr. Brooke Decker commented:

“Patient safety is our top priority, and mold — while it lives everywhere — just doesn’t belong and most certainly isn’t welcome in our hospital… In this instance, we knew there was no risk to patients, but we acted anyway. This is because we are committed to taking the right steps every single time the situation calls for it.”

According to the TRIBLive in Pennsylvania:

Six patients who were in the unit were moved elsewhere before the maintenance started, the VA said this week.

Decker said the hospital has been tracking mold infections in patients since 2011 and has not had any cases associated with the unit the air handler serves.

Earlier this year, officials at UPMC disclosed that four patients contracted mold infections at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Montefiore in Oakland. The infections occurred within the past 15 months.

UPMC officials said three of the patients died, but their deaths cannot be directly attributed to the infections.

While we all appreciate Pittsburgh VA for admitting the issue, they still get a continual fail for cleanliness problems at a facility that appears to be relatively new. VA should immediately post a press release at the moment it learns of problems

So why did it take years to expose VA about Legionnaires’ Disease?


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  1. How do I get in touch with you mr. Benjamin about my father situation he died September 30th of 2015 at this Hospital

  2. Why did it take years to expose Legionnaires? Why did it take years to thoroughly clean up the mold? Given the infection of veterans, did any suffer permanent health consequences from those infections?

    It took years because maintenance or cleaning is always the first expense to be cut if it means other programs might suffer…or someone doesn’t get a bonus.

    As usual, the VA is covering its ass, nothing more. They should know by now, the only liability they would be exposed to is zero since the taxpayers would be on the hook for those who suffer their negligence…if proven, and nobody would lose their jobs.

    I have been told the Grand Junction VA has Legionella in its water system, and no staff will drink the water there. I have also read that there were attempts at blaming a maintenance person there while he was out recovering from surgery.

    I think it is wrong to suggest this was caused by mold, though.

    Mold in a cooling system or growing in walls, yes, that can be a problem depending on the TYPE of mold it is, who is in the area, and who is doing the testing. Mold can be stopped quickly with cleaning and stopping why the mold is growing. Generally it grows in dark places that are moist. Other types of mold are naturally occurring and common in some parts of the country depending on the time of year. I found that out when I sold a house several years ago. An inspector decided they found mold in the attic where a vent had come loose. The mold was undetectable by the naked eye and only found with the type of sampling used. I was required to get quotes for removing the mold, which was the real shock. I had quotes ranging from a few thousand dollars to over $12,000.00 from a contractor who said the house had to be encapsulated, all of the insulation removed and thrown away, then some kind of spray used, then putting the insulation back. A positive pressure system with HEPA filters was also required.

    I did some research on the mold and found it was naturally occurring, with greater amounts occurring depending on the time of year, and that NO remediation was required if additional testing was done during other times of the year. I also found there was no consensus on what level of mold detected required action to remove it depending on the type. Some types required a lot of expensive clean-up, while others required no clean-up. There was also no consensus on how people are affected by different types of mold. Some kinds of mold certainly could cause health problems, but not every type of mold.

    I hired an independent microbiologist to do testing for $300.00, who reported there was nothing whatsoever that needed cleaning because of the tiny amount found, and that it was naturally occurring.

    I further found out that there are lots of contractors out there who will charge outrageous amounts for any kind of mold just to make money. After researching those contractors, I found some could be certified as mold remediation specialists for as little as taking an 8 hour online course. I am shocked some VA employees Uncle doesn’t have a multi-year contract to fix this.

    Sorta like pest control in the Army. Spray only the top floor of the barracks one month for cockroaches which chases them all down to a lower floor, then spray that lower floor the next month and so on.

    In some respects, mold is similar to asbestos. Initially, entire buildings would be evacuated if any kind of asbestos was found, and contractors would come in to remove it. In later years, it was found removing some kinds of asbestos stirred up more than if they just left it alone, or covered it in some manner.

    Legionella is bad, particularly in a hospital where there are patients with lowered immune systems. Mold is also bad, and should not be in a hospital. There is no justifiable reason not to clean it up when it is affecting patients, but the difference between the two likely require different methods to clean them up.

  3. Have y’all ever noticed whenever VA gets caught on anything, the “spokesperson” ALWAYS comes out with; quote, “Patient safety is our highest priority!”
    Well, if that were true. Don’t y’all think the “priority” would be in making sure “cleanliness” would be right up there with;
    1.) having healthcare providers which were up to date in medical proceedures.
    2.) having the “maintenance” of all facilities checked on a regular basis!
    3.) having pharmacies be aware of out-of-date meds. Or meds that are contradictory to other meds.
    4.) making sure physicians are not “wanted” in another state before they are hired?
    Or, making sure any healthcare provider has not been “charged” with anything before being hired. Or, don’t transcer any healthcare provider who has performed poorly at any VA!
    5.) making sure anyone wanting to be hired has had a complete “backround check” done on them BEFORE they are hired?

    I came up with this list in just 15-20 minutes. I’m sure everyone can add to it!
    But VA is so corrupt they don’t give a rat’s ass about patient safety. All they care about is the “statistics”, which are false, so they can rip the taxpayers off.

    1. I forgot, I seem to remember back in either July or August, when VA got more taxpayer’s monies. They were “mandated” to come back every 14 days. This was to “explain, in detail, where and what the expenditures were going to!”
      Has that happened? NO!

      I also remember a Rep. from Illinois demanding “What are the hiring practices of VA?” Has that happened? NO!

      There’s been many demands of VA by the Veterans Congressional Committee. Yet, VA hasn’t complied with many of them. WHY?
      What this does, in my opinion, is slap every veteran and taxpayer right across the face. Either Congress stops the B/S, or starts doing what vets and taxpayers are demanding. That is;
      Holding all VA employees accountable by firing everyone from McDonald on down! And the quicker it’s done the better. The American Citizen is getting fed up with all the corruption, graft and lies our government is perpetrating on us!

      On a side note:
      1.) Gen. Abrams yesterday has announced Burgdahl WILL BE TRIED ON CHARGES OF DESERTION! It may also include “aiding & abetting the enemy!” This was on Fox News.

      2.) FBI Director Comey is NOT complying with “orders” from the White House over the following;
      a.) the investigation of Hillary Clinton will be thoroughly investigated.
      b.) He has gone against White House policies concerning how “refugees are NOT being properly vetted”! Therefore he has sided with other “security agencies” over disallowing further refugees in the country! At least until the vetting process is fixed.
      Director Comey has a ten year contract as the FBI Director. He cannot be fired irregardless of who the sitting President is! I believe this has strengthened his ability to do the job he’s being paid to do! And why he’s been “in conflict with the White House” over the past few months!

      3.) Congress “passed” legislation over disallowing further refugees into the country. The Senate “voted” it down. They want to bring more into the country.

      4.) Texas, along with other states, are still “suing” the federal government over putting more refugees into their state. They alledge the federal government is not complying with current laws.

      5.) North Dakota, and 26 other states, are bringing “charges against Obama” concerning the “Clean Air Act”! It’s because it will cause widespread unemployment.
      North Dakota and 16 other states are also “charging Obama over the commercials of the Iran Deal”! It seems Obama is trying to “strong arm North Dakota” into running them! Evidently N. Dakota and these other states don’t see eye to eye with Obama, or Kerry, on how the Iran Deal was implemented.

      Well, that’s the news for today.

      1. Here’s two other issues coming out of N. Dakota within the past 24 hrs.
        It seems N. Dakota is “booming in the oil business”! Something the White House is denying. There’s been a great influx of workers coming from other parts of the country, especially from California. They want to get their share of work.
        Here’s the problem. It also seems where business is booming, the drug cartels also move in!
        So now the FBI is moving there in a much stronger force. The FBI is “investigating the higher usage of crack and cocaine” amoung the citizens.

        As I receive info I will report it here. I hope y’all like what’s happening nationwide.

        I also hope y’all will get out and vote in the next election.
        As far as I’m concerned, I’m NOT going to vote for anyone if they’ve been in for more than two terms! I believe they would then be concidered “Career Politicians.” That’s my opinion.

    2. If patient safety were truly the highest priority at any VA, why is it they have had so many problems with veterans being infected with whatever because they cannot sterilize their equipment properly? Why is it we hear so little about the same thing in the private sector, but it has happened repeatedly in the VA?

  4. Also, do you notice rather than closing down a whole facility infected with Legionnaires, the VA plays “Whack A Mole” by thinking they can continue all other operations in same facilities and only isolate WHERE IT’s FOUND…that is NOT proper operating procedures and standard practice ANYWHERE BUT…the VA.
    Also, why is it the VA gets away with KNOWING they have an outbreak for YEARS and continue VA Standard Operations without telling/warning/reporting…UNTIL DEATHS occur?
    Reckless, is what this is. People like myself with seriously compromised immune system cannot gamble on ONLY a 33% let alone a 89% positive tests as being an environment that’s safe for people like myself, let alone ANY sick Veteran.

    In the Civilian Medical World, this kind of events can shut down a facility completely, not just “affected wards/wings” as the VA does. Idiots on CRACK must work at all these facilities. (probably selling crack and herein as well, as formerly reported)

  5. And, what about the Quincy, Illinois Veteran’s Home where last heard in Sept. 2015, at least 12 Veterans DIED of Legionnaires Disease Outbreak? The VA had to have the CDC come in or rather, the CDC TOOK OVER because the VA did such a bang-up job?
    Interestingly, it was ONLY Veterans that lived in VA Retirement Home Facility that dies…and MANY MORE Veterans Infected….NOT ANY VA EMPLOYEES????

    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin demanded a Federal Review back in Sept. of this year and have YET to hear a damn thing. This not communicating with the Veterans let alone the Public about Public Safety and BASIC upkeep and proper maintenance of ventilation equipment is ALL IT TAKES. The VA must have been trying to “redefine” whom their residents were by simply KILLING THEM!!!

    Check this out. This happens much more frequently in VAMC’s across the USA than ANYWHERE in the Private Sector. My Civilian Infectious Disease Dr. confirmed that with me and she is very well respected anywhere BUT the VA.

    “[U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wants a federal review of the state’s response to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 12 residents of a western Illinois veterans home…All but one of the 13 Quincy residents to die from Legionnaires’ since August lived at the 129-year-old facility. More than 40 others at the home were diagnosed with the disease, including five workers.
    The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs says its water treatment and cleaning efforts at the home have likely stopped the spread of disease.]”
    Google full story with provided key words in above quote from article.

    Legionnaires ***IS NOT*** as common as balloons at kids b-day parties as the VA wants to try to convey to the public…no…it’s specific to lackadaisical maintenance of ventilation equipment and cleanliness of ANY environment.
    What’s the VA going to say next, that you can BREATH Legionnaires and it does not bother anyone usually because it’s So DAMN COMMON?????!!!!!

    The VA Train Wreck is off the tracks and still inflicting damage….but as the VA Train Wreck whizzes-by sideways screeching on tracks, the VA has their hands out of the train cars asking for MORE $$$$$$$.

    BasTurds. Place proper web linking to fore of address:

    1. @namnibor
      Brother, do you remember how much $$$ VA received in November? Seems my mind is kinda foggy this AM.
      Was it $168+ billion or $168+ million?

      1. The way the terms billions and millions are tossed around so casually, I too get confused, but am pretty sure it was $168++ Billion, correct if wrong but am thinking it was even much larger than that and very reason I replied yesterday’s article initially in outrage of “DID NOT THE VA JUST GE PAID?”
        Something is really awry. Why is there no putting forward of a ‘PLAN’ by the VA of HOW they are actually going to handle this Choice Program ‘Better’, and for that matter, how about an actual VETERAN seated commission or even IG or even the VA taking suggestions/input from the very Vets having all kinds of trouble?
        Would not it make sense for the House/Senate Veteran’s Commissions to call before Veterans like us and others and testify to all the woes of VA?

        Am I too naïve or positive minded? Eternal Optimist but the glass half full is developing cracks in the glass when it comes to all this $hit that makes my eyes cross and scratch my head.

        What IF…this extra $ is needed to PAY all the arrears owed to private providers before they will accept Choice Patient, as another angle?
        Something smells in the woodpile, as my grandpa used to say!

      2. @namnibor
        How bout all the law suits which have been filed? That could be one excuse VA needs more money.
        I’m sure, like many others on here and elsewhere, VA employees in upper management are “pocketing” a big chunk of the taxpayers money. It can’t have dissipated this quick!?

  6. Since these two (2) Senator have (not) changed the VA and nor their co-workers in the House—this is the behavior they desire—-and they keep paying more for it too—on top of all the other “events.” Homicides/Murders are what some journalists had called these events.

  7. Wilmington Delaware VA had positive samples as well and covered it up. Ask the Senator Carper and Coons they know alot about Wilmington because it is Joe Biden’s state. I have plenty of documents to prove it!

  8. 12/15/15

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    At the elevator on the first floor mounted behind glass are the three (3) page instructions on how to handle a whistleblower at the Hospital in Phoenix.

    The VA officials all know what they have done since the instruction started in 2010 [VA Manual] with the N.E.A. R. lists [wait lists]

    “Retaliation against whistleblowers undermines confidence in VA employees, veterans, and their families that change has occurred at the VA,” the two senators wrote. “Such actions run counter to the VA’s mission to care for our veterans.”

    Since these two (2) Senator have changed the VA and nor their co-workers in the House—this is the behavior they desire—-and they keep paying more for it too—on top of all the other “events.” Homicides/Murders are what some journalists had called these events.

    Re-opening the same can of worms, Why not?— the American Public loves repetition.


    Don Karg

  9. Ben and readers, I am sorry to go off topic here but I received a letter from Senator Tim Kaine’s office with a letter from the Director of Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC.

    This letter referenced Home Instead Senior Care (HISC) “exercising its contractual right to discharge a patient for noncompliance with agency requirements which prevent agency staff from providing personal care services.”

    This letter reads like Dr. Kimberly Baptiste’s statement. HISC is being let off the hook and just like Dr. Baptiste, their word is being taken. Check out the emails sent to me.

    Kimberly Brown Nov 2 (2 days ago) to me

    Hello Mrs. Wilkins,

    As a recap to our conversation earlier – The VA was notified that our services will end with your husband on 11/6/15. Please contact them with any further questions.

    Kim Brown

    Kim Brown, Scheduling Coordinator

    Home Instead Senior Care

    111 Olde Greenwich Drive Ste 101

    Fredericksburg VA 22408

    540.899.1422 – phone

    Visit our web brochure: – Fredericksburg

    November 3, 2015 Resumption of Service from Mr. Karl Karch, Franchise Owner – Home Instead Senior Care, Fredericksburg, VA.

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Karl Karch
    Date: Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 4:30 PM
    Subject: Resumption of service
    To: “[email protected]
    Cc: “McGeorge, Antoinette M. RICVAMC” , “Rummel, Stephanie A RICVAMC” , Karen Behning , Kimberly Brown , Tracy Baugh

    Mrs. Wilkins,

    I am sending this email to inform you that we will continue providing care to your veteran husband beyond Friday (as a prior email stated).

    Our office was contacted by Nancy Ross regarding service with your husband. Unfortunately, we are not able to have any dialog with her because of HIPPA guidelines.

    If you wish us to discuss health care matters with Ms. Ross, please reply back giving us authorization.

    Thank you and your husband for your service to our country,

    Karl Karch

    Karl Karch, Franchise Owner

    Home Instead Senior Care

    111 Olde Greenwich Dr., Ste. 101

    Fredericksburg, VA 22408


    Visit our website: – Fredericksburg

    1300 Sunset Lane, Ste. 3220

    Culpeper, VA 22701

    540.825.7180 – Culpeper

    Each Home Instead Senior Care Franchise office is independently owned and operated

    Karl Karch

    Nov 4
    to me, Nancy, antoinette.mcg., stephanie.rumm., Tracy, Kimberly, Karen

    Ms. Fields-Wilkins,

    Regarding your request for changes to be written via email.

    Unfortunately, we do not agree with this as an effective way to communicate schedule changes for the following reasons:

    · This is not our procedure with other clients. Exceptions for one client can result in failure.

    · We always respond to phone calls. We have a staff employee on call 24/7 to respond.

    · A verbal dialog with our staff is important.

    · We do not always respond 24/7 to emails. It is not our procedure to always look at emails outside of regular business hours. The person you email may not be the person on call who has to respond or may be out of work that day.

    · The written communication can lead to confusion. Often times, a 2-way discussion is needed to address any changes. Written email communications will lead to needless “back and forth” emails to get a change resolved.

    · An example of how written communication is not the best is your email request for respite services. In your email you stated:

    “Request Respite Care:

    Dates: 11- 9 -2015 to 11-20-2015. From 1:00PM to 7:00PM. This would include the regular hours already provided by your agency”

    When my RN Karen Behning called you, you stated you wanted the respite “in addition to” the regular hours, not “including” the regular hours.

    Because of the above, we cannot agree to email communications and request that any changes be discussed over the phone as has been our procedure in the past.



    Tracy Baugh

    Nov 12 to me

    Dear Mrs. Fields-Wilkins,

    This email were serve as a follow up to the voice mail that was left for you today. Please be advised that effective immediately Home Instead Senior Care will no longer be providing services to Mr. Wilkins. All future correspondence regarding services should be directed to the Veterans Administration.

    Thank you,

    Tracy Baugh Staffing Coordinator Home Instead Senior Care [email protected] 111 Olde Greenwich Drive Ste 101 Fredericksburg VA 22408 540.899.1422 – phone Visit our web brochure: – Fredericksburg 1300 Sunset Lane Ste 3220 Culpeper VA 22701 540.825.7180 – phone 540.825.7182 – fax – Culpeper Each Home Instead Senior Care franchise office is independently owned and operated.

    Please tell me that someone read where “Mrs. Fields- Wilkins was informed that if necessary HISC could exercise its contractual right to discharge a patient for noncompliance with agency requirements which prevent agency staff from providing personal care services” is in any of those emails? I still have the last voice mail and nothing in it reads what is stated in the letter. It is stated more then once.

    This was after the contracting officer said only the VA could terminate services.

    This is so sad because now contractors are taking taxpayers money and lying on Veterans. I am pissed.

    I was wondering why the staffers in Senator Kaine’s office were so rude to me when I called. It is just like what happened in NC. These lying bastards will lie on Veterans and even the Senators believe them. This is so, very sad.

    I will continue to fight and try to find out who to get this fixed. If any of you have any suggestions please forward to me.

    “The delay in HISC informing the VA was due to the Veterans” Day Holiday.” This statement says a lot.

    Very, very upset.

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