“A year is too long! I call on the Veterans Administration to provide all of the necessary resources immediately to fix the problem, and to protect the Veterans at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, California,” said Flynn.
Inland Empire, Calif. – In February of this year, physicians and nurses at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda filed a federal whistleblower complaint, claiming hospital administration did not inform medical staff when Legionella, or legionnaires’ disease, was first discovered at the facility. The original contamination was corrected. But another outbreak was discovered on June 13th, 2018.
“This is an urgent problem. We need federal resources now to protect the lives of Inland Empire Veterans,” said Sean Flynn, candidate for the 31st Congressional district.
“My opponent, Pete Aguilar’s job is to fight for federal resources to solve problems like this. He offered only one amendment to the entire federal budget — and it was to help his friends in the banking lobby and credit unions. Where is he when our Veterans need help?”
The San Bernardino Sun reports that, “Stephanie Rapp-Tully, a Washington, D.C. attorney representing the whistleblowers, said her clients hope that by coming forward, patients at the Pettis VA Medical Center in Loma Linda will be protected.”
“There are a lot of problems at the Loma Linda facility,” Rapp-Tully said. “These problems are not being addressed, and we believe the facility is being swept under the rug.”
“This is unacceptable, that such conditions exist in our system where our veterans and civilian employees are put at risk. I am glad that the hospital is taking corrective action,” said Damon L. Alexander, past district commander of the San Bernardino County American Legion.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says, “Legionella bacteria can cause a serious type of pneumonia (lung infection) called Legionnaires’ disease. People who get sick after being exposed to Legionella can develop two different illnesses: Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever.
Legionnaires’ disease symptoms are like other types of pneumonia and it often looks the same on a chest x-ray. Symptoms include: cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches.”
“Legionnaires’ disease can also be associated with other symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and confusion that can be deadly to senior citizens and people with compromised immune systems, like those in a hospital,” according to the CDC website.
Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease usually begin 2 to 10 days after being exposed to the bacteria, but it can take longer, so people should watch for symptoms for about two weeks after exposure.
When VA hospital officials detected the bacteria in the building’s water system on June 13th, the hospital placed out-of-service signs on all affected water sources as a safety precaution until the bacteria could be removed, reports the San Bernardino Sun.
“This does not mean there is a Legionella outbreak,” Pettis Medical Center spokesperson Wade J. Habshey said in a statement cited by the San Bernardino Sun. “The facility has a zero-tolerance policy for Legionella.”
The VA plans to conduct a year-long Legionella remediation process for the entire VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, which could cost as much as $1 million, according to an online bid notice cited by the San Bernardino Sun.
“Zero tolerance and taking an entire year to fix the problem are not the same,” said Flynn. “Zero tolerance means you fix the problem now.”
“Don’t let funds be an issue when comes to the lives of our veterans and employees. Be proactive not reactive and let that ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy be for every issue concerning the health and welfare of our people,” said Alexander.