THE STORY OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE PITTSBURGH VA ADMINISTRATION AND THE SPECIAL PATHOGENS LABORATORY
The Pittsburgh VA Closes the Special Pathogens Laboratory*
July 10, 2006- The Pittsburgh VA administration unexpectedly and abruptly closes the Special Pathogens Laboratory - an internationally-recognized infectious disease reference laboratory.
Appeal Letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, R.J. Nicholson
Dr. Yu asks for right of appeal to VA Central Office to forestall this questionable decision. He notes that the Special Pathogens Laboratory was created by VA Central Office and given its accomplishments, should not have been terminated so abruptly (48 hours) without due consideration.
The Pittsburgh VA Special Pathogens Laboratory is Honored Following the American Legion Convention in Pittsburgh
Ironically, on July 16th 2006 (the anniversary of the first outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Philadelphia), a Pittsburgh newspaper ran a story honoring the contributions of the Special Pathogens Laboratory to the study and prevention of Legionnaires’ disease. The contributions of Janet E. Stout, Ph.D. and Victor L. Yu, M.D. were highlighted.
Front Page News! Closure of the Special Pathogens Laboratory*
Three days later, the newspaper must regrettably announce the closure of this preeminent laboratory. The report noted that when the lab closes “…hospitals across the nation might be hard-pressed to find a laboratory to test for the deadly bacteria found in tap water.”
Justification of Closure of the Special Pathogens Laboratory by the VA**
A rebuttal to claims laid forth by the Pittsburgh VA administration to justify the closing of the VA Special Pathogens Lab demonstrated that the reasons for the closure were unfounded. This point-by-point rebuttal demonstrates that all of the alleged points are incorrect and are countered with documentation (note that no documentation to support their allegations was provided by the VA administration.)
Should the Pittsburgh VA Allow the Special Pathogens Laboratory to Complete the Legionella Cultures and Inform the Hospitals of the Results? A Humanitarian Plea.
Dr. Victor Yu advises the VA administration that important information would be lost if incubating cultures were not completed. He offers to move the cultures to another lab to complete the work. The VA refuses.
of a patient***
The Destructive Ripple Effect Following Closure of the Special Pathogens Laboratory
The fate of the Special Pathogens Laboratory, taken in the context of other decisions by the Pittsburgh VA administration, appears to indicate declining support for excellence in microbiology at the Medical Center.
Destruction of the Entire Collection of Legionella and Other Pathogens: A Senseless Tragedy***
Incredibly, this same administration ordered the destruction of a priceless and irreplaceable collection of microorganisms and human specimens that had been collected by Drs. Yu and Stout over the previous 25 years. Dr. Stout had been working with the Director of the VA Research Department to transfer the collection to a qualified laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh when this action occurred.