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More confusion over future of Quincy veterans’ home

Tuesday, Mar 6, 2018

* Remember the AP story yesterday about how Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries told a legislative committee that her department now believes replacing the plumbing at the Quincy veterans’ home wouldn’t be a good use of money after all and would cause too much disruption? Instead, Director Jeffries said, the plan now was to demolish some buildings at the home and rebuild, which would take 3 to 5 years.

Jeffries’ statement came after Gov. Rauner’s January announcement that the plumbing would be replaced.

Well, this is from the AP’s Statehouse guy…



It’s so comforting that everyone is on the same page.

Sheesh.

…Adding… Governor’s office…

Rich,

The Governor was clear in January that “every option should be on the table.”

Rachel Bold
Press Secretary
Office of Governor Bruce Rauner

* Meanwhile

Monday’s hearing was called after the administration released an August 2016 report from Belleville-based consulting engineer BRiC Partnership suggesting steps to mitigate the problem, including replacing the underground water-distribution system and plumbing inside 15 campus buildings where the most susceptible residents live for $8 million.

[Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries] said in December that plumbing replacement could cost $500 million or more; in January, she told lawmakers about the BRiC report and said it put the price tag at $25 million to $30 million. She has never explained why she used estimates that at a minimum were more than four times higher than the actual number.

BRiC’s 2016 report, which cost $20,000, listed about a dozen ideas for a total of $17 million. The administration paid BRiC another $40,000 to update and expand its 2016 report. That update released last month indicated plumbing replacement for the entire campus would be $11 million; expanded options for the other ideas combined would cost no more than $24 million.

Jeffries explained Monday that the August 2016 delivery of the BRiC report was just two months after the June completion of a $6.5 million water-treatment facility and wanted to test its effectiveness before taking any more actions. But Public Health officials had confirmed two more cases of Legionnaires’ in late July, just days before BRiC’s arrival on campus.

Emphasis added for obvious reasons.

Director Jefferies, you’ll recall, said yesterday that she prefers “to speak with journalists who have journalistic integrity.” Hmm.

…Adding… Pritzker campaign…

At a hearing yesterday, Bruce Rauner’s administration announced that the Legionnaires crisis that has already lasted nearly three years and taken 13 lives will continue for at least another “three to five” years.

After 13 residents died on Rauner’s watch, the failed governor has struggled to deal with the health crisis, desperately resorting to press stunts and cover ups instead of real action to fix the problem. Now, as Rauner feels political pressure for his nearly three years of inaction, his administration is taking a page out of the Trump playbook and attacking the press instead of solving the crisis.

“Bruce Rauner has fatally mismanaged the Quincy Veterans’ home, and now he is attacking the press and covering up information instead of taking real action to fix the problem,” said Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh. “Our state’s heroes can’t wait three to five years for this failed governor to address a crisis he has let spiral out of control.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

40 Comments
  1. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:12 pm:

    I wonder if BRiC is working with an IOU?


  2. - FormerParatrooper - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    Common sense is missing. Move the people, now, knock down the buildings and replace the plumbing 100%. These are old structures, I would bet they will find asbestos, knob and tube wiring and a whole host if other violations. New construction is the only correct answer here. The longer they wait the more people will die.


  3. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    Yesterday Jeffries said spending money on plumbing replacement is best use of resources. Wonder if she’s told the boss his plan is a bad idea?


  4. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    Whoops, yesterday Jeffries said spending money on plumbing is NOT the best use of resources.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    - Michelle Flaherty -

    Wait 5 minutes. You’ll be right and wrong then right and wrong again.

    Meanwhile, the Rauner Administration is concerned more about messaging… according to emails(?)


  6. - illini - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:20 pm:

    I am so glad that we have the BTIA running our state agencies - or are they the “Keystone Cops”?


  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:21 pm:

    You’re going to replace all the pipes, then tear it all down and rebuild?

    Whose clouted cousins are in line for that fat score?

    You’re in charge, governor. It’s been years. Make an informed, rational decision, already.

    That’s why you paid all that money for The Big Chair. To do your job.


  8. - Omay - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    BRiC = Bruce Rauner in Charge?


  9. - Retired Educator - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:27 pm:

    I really don’t care what they do in the long term. In the short term, They need to move those honored veterans out to a safe location. This is not going to get better by waiting. Everyday at that facility has the potential for more people and staff to become ill.


  10. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    Seems to me the proper order of steps is:

    Get a “tiger team” from CDB and an architectural consultant on emergency contract.

    Do an emergency survey on the closed hospital down the street to evaluate it’s water system.

    If it’s clean, do the paperwork on a crash basis to re-activate that facility, add any needed monitoring and additional filtration/purification, and transfer the patients and staff from the most-troubled facility to there.

    Make a final determination on the old facility and the pros and cons of a re-build of the plumbing or a complete teardown and new building.
    The re-plumbing from scratch would be the faster option, but taking the patients out and moving them down the street takes bit of the time pressure off whatever the repairs or construction will be on that old facility.

    What am I missing?


  11. - Real - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    To Rauner his re-election campaign is much more important than some veteran home.


  12. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    Jeffries must have a heckuva Chinaman, or she would have been gone by now.

    To the Post, this just underscores that Hoffman has to take charge pronto, not just for politics, but for the safety of the vets.


  13. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:35 pm:

    omay. That would be BRiNC.


  14. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:37 pm:

    Anon 12:34, that’s a reasonable list, but no one seems to know the status of the closed facility down the street.


  15. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:47 pm:

    Rauner incompetence was shown in its full glory yesterday. Yet, he maintains that he did everything right. Wouldn’t change a thing. This guy has got to be defeated for the sake of Illinois.


  16. - Moe Berg - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:52 pm:

    Politically, Rauner believes two things: unions are bad and those who rely on government services or care are leaches who made bad choices that “wealth creators” like Rauner are forced to pay for.

    To the degree veterans are cared for, it should not be in a unionized state-run facility. And, most definitely not in a brand new one that could last for decades.

    Ideally, these people should be cared for in privatized facilities, owned by Bruce’s business associates (and, maybe Bruce himself as we really don’t know the true details of his holdings). So, perhaps if one of them buys that vacant facility down the street, Bruce will move the veterans there.


  17. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:56 pm:

    The closed facility down the street isn’t owned by Illinois. What a dumb idea. Illinois has other veteran’s homes with available beds that can be accessed immediately.


  18. - A Jack - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 12:57 pm:

    I suspect there is mold and other deadly microbes in those old buildings beside the legionnaires bacteria. It is best to rebuild and temporarily house the veterans someplace safer. The ventilation system in those buildings is awful and that is what needs to be torn out.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 1:01 pm:

    I wasn’t around yesterday so I’ll take this opportunity to congratulate Dave McKinney for being the type of work horse reporter that the Rauner Administration wants to tear down with phoniness, as opposed to facing the realities and who they are when faced what’s in front of them.

    To the Pritzker update,

    You’d think with $60+ million and Rauner dabbling in the Dem Primary they’d go after Rauner with an ad to highlight Rauner’s failure.

    It’s a bizarre campaign…


  20. - dbk - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 1:05 pm:

    I went back and reread all of Dave McKinney’s pieces today, and then reviewed a few versions of yesterday’s hearing.

    Then I wrote a very long email to Dave McKinney (hope he didn’t mind too much, mostly it was to praise his investigative work).

    It seems to me that:
    We’re witnessing what happens when a non-leader is faced with the requirement that a real executive decision be taken, but that decision will require spending $$$ for a social service he has not supported/may not believe in (exhibit A: Chicago Veterans Home; I went back and read Mark Brown’s pieces on that as well). This is what “starving the state” plays out like in the real world.

    The behavior of both Shah and Jeffries during the hearing itself on the basis of what I read (don’t have BlueRoom; otherwise I’d have watched the whole thing) seemed unacceptable.

    I’m concerned that adding Hoffmann to the mix, despite his impressive qualifications, is just adding another layer of bureaucracy, ergo, more delays.

    AA@12:34 I went back onto the real estate agent’s site too; it’s still listed, and was in operation as of April 2017. Surely it can be rehabbed after a break of only 10 months?

    I am starting to get the feeling there’s more to this story than even the dismal stuff we’re being grudgingly granted knowledge of.

    Some other form of action … ? Suggestions, anyone?


  21. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 1:25 pm:

    –We’re witnessing what happens when a non-leader is faced with the requirement that a real executive decision be taken, but that decision will require spending $$$ for a social service he has not supported/may not believe in (exhibit A: Chicago Veterans Home;–

    That’s pretty good, but here’s the flipside:

    Is it not in Rauner’s interests — totally base and selfish as they might be — to make any kind of decision instead of risking more deaths on his watch?

    That’s what I don’t get about his long paralysis on this issue. Even if you believe Rauner’s only concerns are his own selfish interests, his indecision is inexplicable.


  22. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 1:37 pm:

    Why are there still people living in this facility? Shouldn’t the state move them somewhere else, first, and then work on the problems in the building?


  23. - dbk - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 1:52 pm:

    –Is it not in Rauner’s interests — totally base and selfish as they might be — to make any kind of decision instead of risking more deaths on his watch?–

    Yes, it is, which is why I’ve become convinced over the past couple days that something else is going on.

    But what?


  24. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    ***The closed facility down the street isn’t owned by Illinois. What a dumb idea.*** That facility cost is $800k and it is likely much safer than the current one. Rauner’s people have talked about spending up to $1 billion (I’ve also seen $500 million) at the Quincy location. What idea is dumb again?


  25. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 2:14 pm:

    It’s a dumb idea because Illinois doesn’t own it. Illinois has other veteran’s homes with empty beds right now. They should have been shipped to these homes yesterday. We don’t need to buy more real estate. We need to ship the veteran’s to these other safe homes and fix the Quincy home.


  26. - Whatever - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    ==[Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries] said in December that plumbing replacement could cost $500 million or more; in January, she told lawmakers about the BRiC report and said it put the price tag at $25 million to $30 million. She has never explained why she used estimates that at a minimum were more than four times higher than the actual number.==

    Comes from drinking the kool-aid. This is the same administration that claims it can save $500 million with pension reform. The real number for a constitutional reform is probably closer to $8 million.


  27. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 2:18 pm:

    Buy the nearby empty health care facility, move the residents, fix the buildings, move them back and then use the empty health care facility as a warehouse for DHS paperwork, but not before you sell it to someone politically connected who can then lease it back to the state at twice the cost.

    I mean that’s how you actually make the Rauner plan work.


  28. - Moe Berg - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    –Yes, it is, which is why I’ve become convinced over the past couple days that something else is going on. But what?–

    People are dead. Timelines aren’t exactly adding up. Legislature not getting answers to its questions nor documents it’s requested.

    Suspect Dennis Murashko might know. Or maybe the soon departing Maggie Hickey? But, they may both have reasons to keep quiet.

    The under-resourced Adams County state’s attorney’s office won’t get to the bottom of it. Need the appointment of a special prosecutor, or the Illinois-equivalent, as this whole situation is starting to take on a criminal odor.

    Surprised the Dem governor candidates aren’t mentioning that angle. But, none of them are operating in a fully competent fashion and, let’s face it, Democrats largely lack the killer instinct, which is one of the reasons why their fortunes are so poor in the states and nationally. This fall, they may get swept back into power despite the lack of focus and message.


  29. - Norseman - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 2:42 pm:

    === The closed facility down the street isn’t owned by Illinois. What a dumb idea. Illinois has other veteran’s homes with available beds that can be accessed immediately. ===

    A dumb idea is to continuing exposing vets to conditions that have already resulted in 13 deaths.

    There are a number of considerations that need to be reviewed by State staff with the vets and their family. Shipping them off throughout the state to wherever a bed is available could be a tremendous strain on the vet and family. It may work for some, but not others. If the closeby facility is suitable for habitation, the benefit would be the ability to have familiar staff available for the vets. Convenience to the family could be another plus. The bottom line IMHO is that there should have been a planning and implementation process for temporarily relocating these folks.


  30. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:09 pm:

    ==It’s a dumb idea because Illinois doesn’t own it.==

    So? Illinois leases a lot of buildings and this is one time where a lease would be more than appropriate.

    The only dumb idea is this:

    ==Illinois has other veteran’s homes with empty beds right now==

    Which would involve moving these people great distances. If there is an option right there and they can be kept in the same area they should.


  31. - dbk - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:38 pm:

    – Illinois has other veteran’s homes with empty beds right now. They should have been shipped to these homes yesterday.–

    Having just consulted the ILVA website: there are 4 Veterans homes in IL; of these, Quincy is the largest by far. Total capacity of the other three (Anna, Lasalle, Mantena) = 520+; there are currently 350 vets in Quincy’s residences (acc. to Erica Jeffries). There may be vacancies, but I seriously doubt if there are 350/520 beds available–and this doesn’t account for special needs residents.

    –Moe Berg @2:20–
    OK, I can grant all that. Does this mean that there’s effectively no recourse?


  32. - don the legend - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:41 pm:

    LP never comments on these Quincy Veteran’s stories. When that Raunerbot stays quiet and doesn’t blame Madigan or anyone else you know Governor Junk is to blame.


  33. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 3:47 pm:

    ==she would have been gone by now==

    That would involve admitting they did anything wrong.


  34. - Dupage Bard - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:03 pm:

    13 veterans died, over 60 sick 4 in the last month, an Agency Director for CMS (the largest most important agency in Illinois) gets pulled from duty to handle the crisis, current Directors won’t answer questions and are hiding in elevators, the whole thing smells.
    Crickets from all the campaigns.


  35. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 5:07 pm:

    Don, that’s a good observation. I’ve tuned out LP so I don’t notice when he’s not around.

    I have to agree that relocating this population en masse across the state is not a good idea. I can’t see, though, why the State hasn’t hopped on that nursing home two blocks down the street.


  36. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 6:09 pm:

    Just wondering if anyone knows who is the insurance carrier on the home. Be our luck if the state decided to self insure this one.


  37. - RNUG - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 9:03 pm:

    -AA-

    I still think JB should buy the vacant building and donate it to the State specifically for use by the Veterans. One of his trust funds could pay for it.


  38. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 9:03 pm:

    Blue Dog, the State self insures pretty much everything.


  39. - RNUG - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 9:06 pm:

    == Be our luck if the state decided to self insure this one. ==

    If I remember correctly, they usually insure major items like that … or they re-insure part of the self-insured liability with major catastrophy carriers.


  40. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:42 pm:

    dbk, there are whole wings that are unused in the other homes. They could open these. Demoralized, a great distance is a flight to Los Angeles. The longest distance from Quincy is Anna, at 5 1/2 hours driving. Norseman I agree with you. The veterans should have been moved as soon as the disease was discovered. I’m frustrated nothing has been done so far and I hope a resolution comes soon.


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