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American Legion to Explore Pittsburgh VA Hospital

The local media, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and members of congress have all tried to dig into the outbreak of Legionella at the Pittsburgh VA hospital and now the American Legion is getting involved.

The group tours fifteen hospitals each year to gather information for an annual report from its System Worth Saving Task Force, which assesses the facilities on several criteria.  The Task force chose Pittsburgh to be among those reviewed this year.

Jacob Gadd, Legion Deputy Director for Health Care said the sites are usually chosen randomly but this year it was decided that Pittsburgh needed to be included on the list given the recent outbreaks of Legionella and the debate over who knew what and when.

American Legion officials will visit Tuesday with executive leadership from the Pittsburgh VA along with several department heads.

Before Gadd and his team tour a site, they always hold a town hall meeting with local vets.

“We hold those to really hear first-hand from veterans how their care is at the hospital and what improvements, or what things are working well and really try to get an idea from the veterans and the users of the system how the VA is doing there for them,” Gadd said.

Gadd said the meetings are not just pro forma gathering intended to keep local vets happy.

“Pretty much every town hall meeting we have had, has had some response on a certain issue or concerns and we relay those,” Gadd said.

The town hall begins at 7:00 Monday night at the American Legion Squirrel Post 577 at 5857 Forbes Ave. in Pittsburgh.  

Following the meeting a report will be published that will be presented at the legion’s annual gathering in August.  It will then be handed to the VA in Washington, members of the House and Senate Veterans affairs Committees, and the President of the United States.

Gadd said there are a number “improvements and awareness” that the reports have “brought to congress and the VA in the past.”

The American Legion has been conducting the visits and issuing the reports since 2003.

Gadd will bring the System Worth Saving Task Force back to western Pennsylvania Jan 20, 2014 to review the Butler VA facility.