Congressman Doyle Assures Local Veterans’ Families “We will get to the bottom of this”

September 9, 2013
Press Release

Pittsburgh, PA – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) assured the families of veterans who died from Legionnaires Disease acquired at the Pittsburgh VA that Congress would fully investigate the outbreak, hold the responsible people accountable, and work to ensure that similar problems don’t arise at VA hospitals in the future.

“I want to say to each and every one of you that you have our deepest sympathy and condolences – and that you deserve answers, and we’re here today to try to get you some answers, and to make sure that there’s accountability, and to make sure that this doesn’t happen ever again,” Congressman Doyle assured the families of several of the veterans who died from Legionnaires’ Disease.
Congressman Doyle was part of a Congressional panel that heard testimony from witnesses about mismanagement at VA health care facilities across the country – including actions at the Pittsburgh VA that resulted in up to 21 infections and 6 deaths from an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease.  The hearing was held in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Courthouse this morning by the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

“The vast majority of men and women who serve our veterans in VA hospitals are good people who care for our veterans, who love our veterans and try to provide them the best care possible,” Congressman Doyle added, “but something clearly went amiss in these cities, and we need to get to the bottom of it to make that sure it never happens again.”

On November 16, 2012, the Pittsburgh VA announced that an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease had taken place at its University Drive facility in Pittsburgh, infecting four patients.  The VA subsequently announced that a fifth patient had contracted the disease – and that one of the five had died.  

In response, Congressmen Doyle and Murphy contacted the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and requested that the Committee look into the outbreak to determine what happened and what should be done to prevent future outbreaks of Legionnaires’ Disease at VA facilities. The Committee has been looking into the issue since then. During the hearing, Congressman Doyle publicly thanked the Committee chairman, Representative Jeff Miller, (R-FL-1) for working with the Congressmen from Allegheny County to address this problem.

“When Congressmen Murphy and Rothfus and I came to you when we first learned of this and asked for this Committee to provide its oversight function, you acted swiftly, and I want you to know that we appreciate the hearings that you held in Washington, DC and the fact that you’re here today to continue to make sure that we get answers for these family members and for other families so that they can feel secure that when they bring their loved ones to VA hospitals anywhere in this country that they’re going to receive the best of care.”

“What we’re hearing today breaks our heart and makes our blood boil,”
Congressman Doyle said later in today’s hearing. “We will get to the bottom of this.”

Click here to view the hearing.
Congressman Doyle’s opening statement starts at the 52 minute-mark.