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Controversy Brewing Over VA Hospital Presidential Award

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) --- When Maureen Ciarolla of Monroeville heard who the latest recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award is, she had a lot to say.

"I hope that award, that has blood all over it, the deaths of five veterans, I hope that he sleeps well at night," Ciarolla says.

The recipient is Michael Moreland, regional director of the Veterans Administration. His award also included a $62,000 bonus.

Ciarolla's father John, a Navy veteran, died after acquiring Legionnaires disease two years ago. She is upset about the award because it came not long after a VA Inspector General's report concluded that the local VA did not follow its own procedures in battling Legionnaires disease.

"I think it's a slap in the face to every veteran and their families," Ciarolla says. "We have disabled veterans coming back from war, eighteen months it's estimated behind in claims for veterans that are disabled coming out of war. And we've got three people that were awarded bonuses?"

Congressman Tim Murphy is also concerned about the award. The nomination process started before revelations about problems with the Legionella bacteria were made public.

"Moreover we found that this award is being given to Mr. Moreland because of work that he did to reduce hospital acquired infections and work he did with the program for transplants," Murphy says. "But the transplant program is one of the reasons the VA should be watching for hospital acquired infections."

Murphy wants the award rescinded.

"On the heels of an IG investigation, and during an inspector general's criminal investigation, this should not happen and that's why I'm writing to the President and the Secretary of the VA and asking them to rescind the award, rescind the financial awards and rescind the actual award itself," Murphy adds.


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