* A refresher from WBEZ…
Illinois public health officials delayed informing the public for nearly a week about a deadly 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a state veterans’ home in Quincy despite knowing the facility was facing “the beginning of an epidemic,” according to internal emails from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office obtained by WBEZ. […]
One of the nation’s top infectious disease experts said it’s “mind boggling” that the state would wait six days to notify the public about the initial outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home.
“I think it’s really inexcusable,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Center for Health Security in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. “It takes you six days from seeing an epidemic to tell people that you’re seeing an epidemic? That’s six days that you’ve allowed that disease to spread in a manner that probably wouldn’t have happened if you would have known earlier because people would have been taking action. People would have been asking questions.
“If you know there is an epidemic, you need to tell people immediately,” Adalja said.
The state’s decision not to notify the public immediately did not display even minimal standards of caution, he said.
* From yesterday’s legislative hearing…
Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries testified that officials waited to notify the public because they needed time “to ensure that before information was released that we knew what we were talking about.” In the meantime, she said, staff was instructed to check residents’ vital signs more frequently and residents were told informally that there was the risk of an infectious disease on the campus. Jeffries said the goal was to not “incite hysteria or panic.”
Lawmakers questioned that reasoning, saying relatives of the residents didn’t get information that might have led them to remove their loved ones from the home.
“I reject the idea that you had to choose between improving the care and taking initial remedial measures and issuing a press release,” said Rep. Michael Halpin, D-Rock Island. “I don’t know that the press release was necessary, but informing the residents and the powers of attorney and their family members that there was a specific issue is important.”
* Gov. Rauner today during his Quincy press conference…
Our team did exactly what they should have done, exactly when they should have done it.
* Rauner emerges from Quincy veterans home with plan for zero legionnaires cases: One step Rauner said he’ll take is putting together a new task force in the coming days. The task force will be made up of veterans advocates, lawmakers, healthcare professionals and members of his administration. Rauner also recommended a new facility on the Quincy campus and laid out a way to pay for it. “I also want to work with philanthropists and businesses that would be willing to donate both financial resources as well as technical capability,” Rauner said.
* Rauner leaving vets home, says water systems to be upgraded after Legionnaires’: During his week stay, Rauner said: “I’ve drunken the water from the sinks, as well as other sources.”
* Rauner vows not to close Quincy veterans home after Legionnaires’ outbreak: “I came here because I wanted to make a judgement for myself. I didn’t want to just rely on other people. I didn’t want to hear testimony or various opinions,” he said. “I wanted to come for myself to see first hand the nature, the fundamental service at this facility. And let me be crystal clear, I do NOT support closing this facility.”