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Duckworth, Durbin say “vague assurances” from Rauner on Quincy veterans’ home are “quite simply inexcusable”

Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018

* 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments
  1. - Sonny - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 11:47 am:

    It’s not ripping someone out of their home when their being there could result in dying.


  2. - JackD - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 11:47 am:

    The health risks of Legionnaire’s Disease are also “very substantial”.


  3. - Irish1 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:11 pm:

    At what point does this become criminal? We know the residents are elderly and frail, we know the conditions are unsafe, we know that IDPH and IDVA are fully aware, seriously I am asking the attorneys on this blog what or who can intervene and protect these people from this gross negligence??


  4. - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:14 pm:

    Rauner is worried about moving somebody to a safe place and callimg it ripping them out of their home is the same as saying leave them in a burning building when its on fire.


  5. - Retired Educator - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:15 pm:

    I am not usually in agreement with Durbin, or Duckworth, but is this regard they are correct. While groups meet to discuss options, the potential for more illness, and death grows. This Governor has had 3 years to get something done, and has stonewalled any policy that would help the veterans, their families, and the employees, at the Veteran’s Home. This is a pathetic attempt to deflect blame, and deceive the public. 26% is way to high for this guy.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:37 pm:

    Vague assurances aren’t keeping people out of the harm’s way as… continuing to live there puts them through.

    The pressure must continue.

    Those living there with these vague assurances in hand need better than… vague assurances.


  7. - Leigh John-Ella - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:41 pm:

    Almost everything the governor said in Rockford was contradicted earlier this week by his agency directors.


  8. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:48 pm:

    J.B. has the opportunity here to win the hearts and minds of just about everyone in Illinois - once it is determined that the piping is to blame for the disease (and not the source water itself), he should take the money he would have spent on negative campaigning from now until the general election, and donate it toward replacing every stick of piping at Quincy. He may even spend less doing so (would it be tax-deductible?), and would become a state-wide hero overnight, and make Rauner look even worse on the issue than he already does. JB gets another mansion in Springfield (with commodes, even), The people of IL would have less ads to listen to, the money spent would go toward a cause greater than making media more wealthy, and criticism of JB would be equated with supporting the death of the residents of the Old Soldiers Home. Plus, SNL would get great source material for re-booting an episode of “The Honeymooners” at the Governor’s Mansion. Maybe they could get Biss to play Art Carney’s character.


  9. - Stand Tall - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:52 pm:

    Okay Durbin and the HUD crisis in Cairo didn’t happen until Trump took office. You’ve turned a blind eye for how many years on issues like this in your own state?


  10. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:53 pm:

    Considering Duckworth still has a pending lawsuit for firing an employee for reporting abuse of veterans one would think she would be more measured in her criticism.


  11. - Norseman - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:59 pm:

    === And so you don’t just rip people out of their home and put them in a completely different place. ===

    This is the goal in dealing with the needs of patients. However, any number of emergencies would necessitate them being “ripped” out of their home should their lives be placed at risk.

    I haven’t seen anything that indicates there has been any serious discussion as to a temporary relocation of the vets. For that matter, has anyone even broached the topic to the vets and family members?

    Governor not-in-charge still seems to be satisfied with following on the issue instead of leading.


  12. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:11 pm:

    Shah was on The 21st today as the main guest. Last fifteen minutes are with Dave McKinney. Definitely worth a listen.

    https://will.illinois.edu/index.php/21stshow


  13. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:21 pm:

    The idea posted here a few days ago about moving people down the street to a shuttered nursing home needs a serious look.
    As to Durbin he is useless. All the time in the senate and his position in senate, how about giving Illinois something? Duckworth with her background should be all over this
    They along with local congressmen should have news conferences there every day. Blame Rauner or praise him just get something done. Is that really asking too much?


  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 1:29 pm:

    –“The challenge with that is they’re very vulnerable– very frail.–

    They can’t be wheeled into a van and driven to a place where the water won’t kill them?

    Shame on you, liar.

    What is your purpose here? What do you seek to accomplish, every morning when you get out of bed?


  15. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 2:06 pm:

    Rauner- “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.”

    How many veterans died at the Quincy home due to Legionnaires? How many veterans had to be transported to the local hospital and later died there because of Legionnaires? How many veterans had to transported to the local hospital to be treated for Legionnaires and then returned to the VA Home? Maybe they wouldn’t have had to have been “ripped” out of the Quincy VA Home if some things had been done sooner to combat Legionnaires and/or families were given the option to aggressively seek treatment of their loved one, or had time to discuss moving their loved one to a safer location. We’re not talking about ripping off a bandage, Guv, we’re talking about the State ripping people’s lives apart by saying “We’re working on it”.


  16. - DuPage - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 2:49 pm:

    @Irish1 - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 12:11 pm:

    ===At what point does this become criminal? We know the residents are elderly and frail, we know the conditions are unsafe, we know that IDPH and IDVA are fully aware, seriously I am asking the attorneys on this blog what or who can intervene and protect these people from this gross negligence??===

    I think it is becoming clear that gross negligence is involved. The deceased veterans families should consult a lawyer.


  17. - dbk - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 4:43 pm:

    Thanks to Anon221 for the link to The 21st interview with Nirav Shah / 15-min. convo with Dave McKinney. Very informative.

    I suppose it’s okay for Durbin and Duckworth to write to the gov, but they’ve already written (twice iirc), and they’ve also written to the head of the CDC, practically begging the agency to “take over” the crisis. How much more can they do?

    We have a gov who’s not going to respond to this crisis, period, no matter who tries to intervene.
    And both IDPH (Shah) and IDVA (Jeffries) are going to keep stonewalling, period.

    Someone’s noted here fairly recently that the CE of Illinois is actually quite powerful as governors go - well, here we see the exercise of purely negative power, the power to refuse to act, which he appears to enjoy engaging in (think “budget crisis”).

    McKinney was really good on the 21st, but it’s clear that reporting can only go so far - he’s done his job, will keep doing it as he’s allowed (there’s going to be the mother of all fights to get the docs from IDPH, Shah made that clear), but Dave McKinney isn’t the governor, either.

    The gov in this case answers to no one - not the veterans, not their families, not the people of Illinois, not the VA, not the CDC … no one.

    @DuPage: the families already are engaged in litigation; 11 of the 13 are suing. Several families are being represented by the IL AG, in fact.

    I can’t think of anything that would move the gov to act at this point, frankly.

    On a related note: I recall reading something about his investment practices with nursing homes (details now lost to memory) leading up to the 2014 election, and being so concerned by it that I decided on the spot I could never vote for him. Boy, that was prophetic.


  18. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 7, 18 @ 5:13 pm:

    –I think it is becoming clear that gross negligence is involved. The deceased veterans families should consult a lawyer.–

    Civil lawsuits have been filed.

    As to criminal negligence, I think that’s on the Adams County or Sangamon County state’s attorneys, or the U.S. Attorney for Central Illinois.

    But in real time, right now, it’s on all of us to raise hell and make it right for these folks.

    I don’t understand why this man won’t do the obvious, common-sense, humane first step and put the folks in a safe place, but that’s where we are, we have to be earnest in dealing with it.

    It’s on us, right now.


  19. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 8, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    67 cases since 2015 at the Illinois Vet. Home in Quincy. Does anyone besides me wonder why this has not been on national news? And I’m in southern Illinois, a lot of people down here do not even know about this. (Because of my job, I do not get to watch much news on TV, so I apologize if I am wrong, and this has been in the national news.)


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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