* Matt Hopf at the Quincy Herald-Whig…
Two of 10 lawsuits filed against the state of Illinois claim the Illinois Veterans Home knew of the presence of the water-borne bacteria Legionella in its facility by July 2015 and did not notify the residents or their families about the issues.
They also claim that when two residents became ill and exhibited fevers, they never were tested for Legionella by medical personnel at the facility.
The Herald-Whig obtained the lawsuits from the Illinois Court of Claims through a Freedom of Information Act request. An 11th lawsuit is expected to be filed. […]
In the lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Melvin Tucker, who died Aug. 31, 2015, at the age of 88 from a Legionella pneumophilia infection, the family claims that daily nursing logs in July 2015 showed Tucker was doing well. But the family claims that on Aug. 21, 2015, Tucker told the staff that “he did not feel well and was concerned that he was sick.” The family claims further logs noted that Tucker had a fever and issues with his lungs. He reportedly was given Tylenol, but the suit says no further action was taken.
“By August 27, 2015, Mr. Tucker was very anxious about his health and it is noted that he informed his priest that he was fearful he was going to die,” an exhibit from the lawsuit said. “Finally, on this date, the staff took a urine sample and confirmed that he was in fact positive for Legionella.”
August 27th is highlighted for a reason.
Consult the timeline we talked about yesterday. Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries claims that the remediation cleanup started on August 21st. Since I posted that timeline yesterday, IDPH Director Nirav Shah has told me that his agency was informed by the county health department on August 5th about the first case and was notified about the second case on August 21st (individual cases are pretty common everywhere, but when a second case is found, it’s more cause for alarm). On August 23rd, the CDC was formally notified of five confirmed cases. The governor’s office was notified on August 24th.
And yet, it wasn’t until August 27th that Tucker was finally tested even though he was exhibiting classic symptoms?
* Oh, and by the way, in the midst of all this, on August 25th, Gov. Rauner and IDVA Director Erica Jeffries did a photo op in Springfield with some veterans…
Two days later, IDVA and IDPH announced the outbreak to the public.
The lawsuits are here.
* Rep. Jil Tracy, who represents the Quincy area, told me today that she would “not hesitate about putting my father into the veterans’ home.”
It does appear that the veterans’ home has upped its game since then. They’ve had a couple of outbreaks since 2015 and they’ve both been contained. “It’s a great place for anyone to live,” Tracy insisted.
* I think one thing that local leaders are really worried about is the potential for closure. From WBEZ’s report...
Sen. Durbin tells WBEZ far more dramatic steps are necessary in light of the most recent legionellosis cases in October and November.
He said the state must move the Quincy home’s nearly 400 veterans and their spouses to a safe place until its century-old plumbing system is fully free of the waterborne bacteria that killed residents. If that isn’t possible, the state should build a new home, Durbin said. […]
“I want an admission by the governor that we have failed these veterans, and we need to do something immediately on an emergency basis to protect those who are there to make sure this never happens again and, if necessary, to replace this facility,” said Durbin, who along with fellow Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, has endorsed candidate J.B. Pritzker to be their party’s nominee to challenge Rauner as the potential GOP candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
“What we have now lurching from year to year is a situation that’s embarrassing, and it’s an insult to these veterans and their families,” Durbin said.
* Pritzker campaign…
“Allegations of failure to notify families and test residents are appalling and more evidence of Bruce Rauner’s gross mismanagement and neglect,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg as many more details remain unknown, which is why Bruce Rauner must immediately release all communication about the Legionnaires outbreaks in Quincy.”
Two new reports out today added more questions about Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration’s response to the tragic Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. Ultimately, 13 people died in 2015. The Herald-Whig obtained lawsuits that detail how residents were not tested or treated in a timely fashion, despite showing symptoms of the disease. Why did the Rauner administration not take more aggressive steps to ensure everyone was tested and cared for knowing the deadliness of the disease?
Secondly, Capitol Fax reported Governor Bruce Rauner attended a veterans’ honor flight with his Veterans’ Affairs Director after the Governor’s office was informed of the outbreak, but before the public was alerted. This meeting calls into question Rauner’s role in the then-unfolding situation at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. Was Rauner briefed by his Veterans’ Affairs Director during this meeting? Did Rauner and the Director talk about when the public should be informed?
So far, Rauner’s administration has done nothing to address the questions raised by WBEZ’s heartbreaking account from Wednesday. As new information leaks out, those questions will only grow.
“Bruce Rauner’s administration already failed veterans at the Quincy home, and now he is refusing to be transparent about what happened,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “The families of the deceased should not need to find out what happened to their loved ones through press reports. Rauner needs to come clean about what he knew when, and what he did about it. This is not the time for Rauner to simply duck accountability for his administration’s failures like he always does.”