* Press release…
Governor Bruce Rauner today detailed the latest CDC-backed remediation efforts at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy (IVHQ) and announced that the Capital Development Board is issuing an RFP for a Master Planning contract to explore building a new state-of-the-art facility on the Quincy campus.
He also revealed that the state intends to purchase a vacant nursing home a few blocks from the Quincy campus, renovate it, and prepare it for occupancy in the event residents need to be moved to protect them from potential Legionella infections. There have been no positive water tests for Legionella since completion of the latest remediation.
* During a press conference this afternoon in Quincy Mike Hoffman, the former CMS director who has been put in charge of fixing the problems at the veterans’ home, clarified that statement about buying the vacant nursing home.
“We have not signed a contract, we have not entered into an agreement,” Hoffman said. It could happen in the next month or two, he said.
“That’s not the plan yet,” Gov. Rauner also said today in Quincy about buying the nursing home down the street and moving the residents. “That’s an option that we want to have available.”
But, he said, that option could not accommodate all 352 veterans’ home residents because there’s not enough room.
So, Rauner said they’ll have a modular housing option on the veterans’ home campus itself, “With all new piping, all new facilities not connected at all to the existing water system.”
The governor claimed today that the modular housing option (with all new plumbing from a different water source) could be accomplished “in just a few months.”
Rauner also said he wants to work with the General Assembly to “try to streamline the procurement process” to get the all new facility built, which he expects to take two years. Yeah, well, I hope he puts Hoffman in charge of that and doesn’t try to deal with the GA on his own is all I’m saying.
* Gov. Rauner also got defensive when asked why these changes have taken so long…
There is this false narrative I think for political purposes that somehow it’s too slow or why did it take so long. Nothing has taken long. We’ve implemented immediately, immediately everything that’s been recommended. So, there was nothing that somehow taken too long, or we didn’t do or we waited on. Nothing whatsoever.
As a reminder, twelve residents died in 2015 (partly because the administration took way too long to notify them of the outbreak), another one has passed away since then and 4 cases popped up last month alone.
* The governor was not asked about this today…
A Republican candidate for Illinois Attorney General says there should be an independent investigation into the state’s handling of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at a veterans’ home.
Erika Harold is supported by Governor Bruce Rauner, who has defended his administration’s response to the outbreaks even though residents there keep getting sick.
At a forum for attorney general candidates [last week] streamed on facebook - Harold was asked if there’s potentially a case for criminal negligence by state officials. Harold says it’s too soon to know.
HAROLD: I wouldn’t prejudge the evidence but I think there should be an independent investigation and see where the evidence leads.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…
Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s press conference at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy today:
“What is this guy talking about? Everything he said today was a contradiction of what we were told last week by his administration.”
“Last week we were told the nearby nursing home might not be option for housing veterans because the building is old and might have its own problems. Today we’re told it’s back on the table.
“Last week we were told a draft plan for fixing the Quincy campus would be done by the end of the month and a final plan ready by May 1. Today we hear about entirely new avenues that should be finalized by the fall.
“When is someone going to actually take charge and do something?
“This outbreak began in 2015. The governor already spent $60,000 worth of taxpayers’ money on two engineering reports only to now announce he’s throwing them out and spending even more on new experts to do new studies and offer up another new plan.
“I’ve got family members of deceased veterans contacting me because they’re frustrated and fed up with the Rauner administration.
“I don’t want to hear about plans and options and task forces and choices to be made at some future date. I want the governor to make a decision and do something right now.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…
tate Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) released the following statement this afternoon following the governor’s press conference at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy:
“Classic bureaucrats. Three years after the crisis began they’re still talking about options and plans. There have been enough studies and reports and meetings. And that’s all the governor announced today. More studies and reports and meetings. The governor appears stuck on a political treadmill. Just do something already.”