Presence of Legionella bacteria closes VA clinic

  • By Rick Shrum May 17, 2013
The Veterans Administration outpatient clinic at Washington Crown Center was closed Friday after Legionella bacteria was found in the water supply. - Karen Mansfield/Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Washington Crown Center was closed Friday, and will reopen Monday, after low levels of Legionella bacteria were found in the water supply.

The bacteria, which cause Legionnaire’s disease, were found during routine testing of the water last week. Test results were released Thursday, said Brandon Blatt, vice president of Sterling Medical Corp. of Cincinnati, Ohio, which leases and operates the North Franklin Township clinic through a contract with VA Pittsburgh.

Blatt said he and clinic officials are not aware of anyone becoming ill from the water.

“I want to stress that the level (of Legionella) we had retained was extremely, extremely low,” Blatt said. “Still, we wanted to respond to this immediately and aggressively.”

Immediate response is paramount in the wake of 21 patients contracting Legionnaire’s disease at two Pittsburgh-area VA hospitals in recent months.

Five died, leading to Congressional inquiries.

Sterling Medical had workers installing a system to superheat the clinic’s tap water to kill the Legionella.

Friday appointments were canceled and the clinic was closed.

A hand-printed sign on the entrance door notified patients of the closing and said the clinic would reopen Monday.

The mall otherwise was open Friday. Michael Joyce, Crown Center general manager, said the VA clinic has a water supply separated from the rest of the mall.

Blatt said in a prepared statement that “VA Pittsburgh has recently tested the water systems at its remaining four contracted community based outpatient clinics and these tests have been negative for the bacteria.”

The Legionella bacteria is found naturally in the environment, usually in water.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a business reporter in 2012. Previously, he was a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won numerous awards, including a Golden Quill, an O-R staff Golden Quill award, and four other writing awards during his 40 plus years working for daily newspapers. A lifelong Pittsburgher, he is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Fire engulfs Cecil Township house

Police beat Nov. 25

Scenery Hill to relight Century Inn sign

Pittsburgh man charged with disrobing in California police holding cell

Peters girl uses strike time to help others

2000 Turkeys reaches goal

Cecil Elementary celebrates Thanksgiving feast

Fire sweeps through Independence Township apartment building

Judge to trusts’ attorney: Recorder of deeds is not in contempt of court order

Police say North Strabane man assaulted wife as she bathed daughter