* Press release…
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has posted two Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports addressing the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy (IVHQ). CDC generated the reports after two visits by environmental health and infectious disease specialists to IVHQ. IDPH requested Epidemiologic Assistance (Epi-Aid) from the CDC after confirming an increase in Legionella cases in August 2015, and again in 2016. The CDC also visited IVHQ earlier this month and a summary of that visit is pending. These reports address the complexities of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and how the State of Illinois has taken appropriate action.
The CDC describes the State’s diligent response and efforts to help protect the health and safety of veterans and IVHQ staff and visitors, noting:
• IVHQ has a well-established clinical infection surveillance and prevention program in place.
• From the identification of the outbreak, IVHQ clinical staff performed checks on all residents in skilled care every four hours, and twice daily for all residents in independent living. Per established IVHQ protocol, any resident developing symptoms consistent with a lower respiratory infection had a chest x-ray performed immediately for pneumonia diagnosis.
• Since the 2015 outbreak, significant remediation efforts undertaken by the Quincy Veteran’s Home have substantially reduced the presence of Legionella in the potable water system.
• Based on observations during the Epi-Aid investigation, the water management program was fully implemented, followed, and continuously reviewed by the water management team to optimize the water systems.
Emphasis added because there’s significant contrary evidence. The full report is here.
* Let’s go back to the original WBEZ report…
Dolores French, a native Chicagoan and lifelong Cubs fan who was 79, had only one health malady: deafness. Otherwise, she was in good health and was allowed to move into the veterans’ home with her husband of 57 years, Richard French Sr., because he was a U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War.
She was assigned to an independent living unit at the facility, Steve French said, while her husband was placed in another residential building at Quincy because he needed care for his worsening Parkinson’s disease. Typically, French said, his mother would walk to her husband’s room and spend eight hours a day with him.
When the phone call about Legionnaires’ at Quincy arrived, Steve French said he immediately wanted to check on his parents’ well-being and tried calling his mother, who had a device that translates phone calls into text. He got no response. He tried the desk in her building and also got nothing. The next call went to the facility’s administrative offices.
“I said, ‘This is Steve French. I heard the news. I’m just checking on my dad and mom,’” he recalled. “And she just said that they’re OK, that if something happens, we’ll get a call.”
That was Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.
But it wasn’t until the next morning, as French was contemplating making the drive to Quincy from Springfield to check on her, that he was notified by the home that his mother’s neighbors had reported her missing, and staff wanted permission to enter her room, he said.
Within 10 minutes, as the Frenches sat in their basement, another call came from Quincy to report his mother had been found on the floor in her apartment, dead.
As the news began to sink in, yet another call arrived, this time from the Adams County Coroner’s Office. French’s wife, Deann, took the phone.
“He said, ‘We found Mrs. French, and this is going to be difficult for me to tell you, but she has been dead for a significant amount of time,’” Deann French remembered. “So I’m processing that, and I said, ‘Do we know what happened to her? What happened?’ At this point, I’m not thinking Legionnaires’. I just wasn’t. And he said, ‘No, she was found on the floor in front of her recliner, pretty badly decomposed.’”
Within another hour or two, the coroner called back with confirmation that he suspected Legionnaires’, and that state law required an autopsy because an outbreak had been declared at the home.
According to the CDC’s report referenced by IDPH, the identification of the outbreak occurred on August 21, 2015. Mrs. French was found dead on August 29th in a state of decomposition. Yet, the state told the CDC they were checking on independent living residents twice a day starting August 21st.
I asked IDPH for comment yesterday and haven’t heard back.
* Again, the state supposedly identified the existence of an outbreak on August 21st. From the timeline I put together the other day…
August 21: Illinois Veterans’ Home resident Melvin Tucker develops a fever. He is given Tylenol.
August 26: Gerald Kuhn, 90, is given Tylenol for a fever that reaches 104 degrees. Kuhn asks to go to the hospital and tests positive there for Legionella.
August 27: After six days with a fever, Melvin Tucker is still not on any kind of antibiotic and hasn’t yet been tested for Legionnaires’, despite the CDC being notified four days earlier of an outbreak and the state announcing eight confirmed cases that same day.
August 31: Melvin Tucker and Gerald Kuhn die, bringing the death total to four.
But, according to the CDC’s report, the state claimed to the CDC that Legionella urine antigen test samples “were collected from any resident with an elevated temperature.”
*** UPDATE *** From the Kennedy campaign…
This applies to the multiple stories out today about Bruce Rauner neglecting our most vulnerable — and lying about it:
Examples of neglect and deceit continue to mount under Bruce Rauner’s administration. He’s overseeing a system that lies, that manipulates data, that destroys the health of our seniors, our veterans, and the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill. It’s a horrifying display of mismanagement and, even worse, it’s inhumane. Not only do we need a new governor, but we need leaders in both parties to stop protecting a system that’s crushing the most vulnerable communities in Illinois.