DeKalb County

Sources: Air quality problem growing at Atlanta VA hospital

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A Channel 2 investigation is still working to get to the bottom of an air quality problem at a local veterans hospital.

Despite the VA's refusal to answer questions from Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant, several sources have told you the problem is growing.

Channel 2 Action News has been exposing problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Atlanta VA for years.


In the aftermath of recent national and local scandals, VA leaders have espoused their commitment to transparency. It turned out to be a false promise this week.

"They have a bunker mentality. When they get hard questions they immediately treat it as a hostile attack on them," said Dan Caldwell with Concerned Veterans for America. %



That's Caldwell's take on why Atlanta VA Medical Center leaders have, for days now, refused to answer any questions on camera about an air quality issue inside the hospital we exposed this week that several sources say is still making workers sick.

“It's not acceptable for a government agency to behave like this, and we're not talking about classified information, we're not talking about information here that compromises a patient's privacy," Caldwell said.

In a written statement, the VA said the hospital experienced an, "environmental issue in the operating suite between June 27 and July 6" and corrective measures were taken.

But sources told Diamant more than 50 workers have gotten sick so far from a ventilation problem, not just in that second floor operating room suite near a construction site, but also on the first floor as recently as Thursday.

With no answers from the VA about the problem's source, union leaders contacted federal investigators.

"Why did you feel it so important to call OSHA?" Diamant asked AFGE Local 2778 President JoAnne Lyamu.

"Because people were getting sick in the area, and nobody could pinpoint exactly where it was coming from," Lyamu said.

And with the VA now on the clock to get OSHA answers.

Diamant searched OSHA records online and found the agency has slapped the hospital with a total of 37 worker safety violations in seven inspections over the last four years, including a 2012 ventilation violation, which OSHA considered serious.