* Press release…
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today once again urgently requested Governor Bruce Rauner’s detailed plan of action for ensuring the safety of residents, family, and staff at the Illinois Veterans’ Home (IVH) Quincy. They also pressed Rauner’s Administration to accept the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) offer of technical assistance—including a site visit to IVH Quincy—in tandem with ongoing VA financial support as well as expert assistance that has been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently confirmed four additional cases of Legionnaires’ disease among residents of IVH Quincy—bringing the total number of confirmed legionellosis cases at IVH Quincy to 67 since 2015. According to the CDC, it is rare and worrisome that cases of Legionnaires’ disease are being found at this time of year, when the weather trends colder.
“While recent reports indicate you are considering options—from replacing piping to constructing new buildings on campus—we still do not yet have a detailed plan of action for ensuring the safety of residents, family, and staff at the facility going forward. Once again, we urge you to finalize such a plan without delay,” the members wrote in a letter to Gov. Rauner. “We hope you will uphold your responsibility as Governor and finally provide leadership on this crisis that has tragically resulted in the deaths of 13 residents at IVH Quincy over the past three years. Our veterans, their families, and the excellent staff there deserve nothing less.”
* Excerpt from the letter…
On March 1, 2018, members of the National Infectious Diseases Service at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) communicated with IDVA Director Jeffries. They offered additional technical assistance in the efforts to mitigate and prevent Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at IVH Quincy, in addition to the ongoing substantial financial assistance provided by the VA. We urge your Administration to accept the VA’s offer of expert assistance—to include a site visit to IVH Quincy—in tandem with ongoing expert assistance that has been provided by the CDC.
Vague assurances that next steps are forthcoming “in the near future” are quite simply inexcusable, particularly as it took you three years before finally appointing an advisor to coordinate and oversee efforts for improvements at IVH Quincy. Moreover, claims that a final plan of action to make improvements at IVH Quincy will be presented to the Illinois General Assembly as late as May and that construction of new buildings on campus could take up to five years are insufficient given how long your Administration has already delayed in addressing this public health crisis.
* Gov. Rauner was in Rockford yesterday…
Rauner says his administration is considering replacing old plumbing systems, as well as demolishing residence halls. He says another option could be transferring the existing residents to another facility.
“The challenge with that is they’re very vulnerable– very frail. They’re very elderly and this is their home,” Rauner said. “This is like a family for them. And so you don’t just rip people out of their home and put them in a completely different place. The health risks of doing that are very substantial.”
The state director of Veterans’ Affairs says there are plans to raze residence halls where there have been cases of Legionnaires’ since 2015. That plan is estimated to take three to five years–but there’s no estimate yet for how much it would cost.