Pittsburgh VA director placed on leave

by: Adam Smeltz, TribLIVE Updated:

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PITTSBURGH - The director of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Terry Gerigk Wolf, will go on administrative leave as VA officials deal with fallout from a fatal Legionnaires' disease outbreak there, the VA announced Friday evening.

(This article was written by Adam Smeltz, a staff writer for Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.)

Acting VA Secretary Sloan D. Gibson ordered the suspension Friday, according to a brief statement from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington. Wolf will remain on leave “pending the completion of administrative actions related to the Legionella outbreak,” it says.

Wolf oversees the VA campuses in Oakland and O'Hara, where a Legionnaires' outbreak erupted in 2011 and 2012. Six veterans died and 16 others were sickened in the outbreak, which federal health reviewers linked to bacteria contamination in the tap water.

The VA announcement Friday marks the first public confirmation of any employee discipline stemming from the outbreak. The VA did not say specifically why Gibson suspended Wolf or how many others might be disciplined.

“VA leadership has initiated actions with careful consideration of the statutory protections and rights of employees, including due process,” the VA statement reads. “While we are focused on completing this process in a timely manner, VA's priority is to carry out these actions objectively and consistent with applicable administrative guidelines.”

(Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or asmeltz@tribweb.com.)