VA promotes Pittsburgh official who kept lid on deadly Legionnaire’s outbreak

The Veterans Affairs administrator who told staff not to publicly disclose a deadly Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at a Pittsburgh VA hospital is being promoted, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports:

David Cord, deputy director of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System since June 2012, will become director of the Erie VA Medical Center within 60 days, the VA informed Congress.

The VA disclosed the Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed at least six and sickened at least 16 others on Nov. 16, 2012 — two days after Cord told a VA spokesman not to alert the public about it, according to an internal email from the spokesman obtained as part of a Tribune-Review investigation.

On Nov. 14, 2012, two days before the VA Pittsburgh disclosed the outbreak, former spokesman David Cowgill wrote to an aide of VA Pittsburgh Chief of Staff Dr. Ali Sonel that Cord “does not want to be proactive and go to the media with a statement.”

Instead, Cord wanted Cowgill to prepare a statement, in case “they come to us, which we are anticipating they will,” said the email that the Tribune obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

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