On the same day Pritzker released a TV ad featuring a family member of a veteran who died of Legionnaires’ disease at the home, Rauner apologized to family members of those affected by the outbreak: “I am sorry for your loss. It is deeply painful.”
But the embattled Republican governor still asserted that the outbreak was dealt with “immediately.”
“When the Legionella infection occurred, immediately the first day, action was taken to keep the veterans safe,” Rauner said. “Water supplies were shut off. Windows were closed. Fountains were shut down. Bathtubs drained and no longer used. And the veterans were evaluated for their health condition. Those who were infected were treated properly. Everyone else was monitored, and the families of those veterans who showed some symptoms were notified immediately when a change in health condition of their loved ones.”
“No one is perfect. In retrospect we could all learn lessons about how to do things better, but the veterans were well served by the outstanding staff here,” Rauner said. “Action was taken immediately to keep them safe.”
* WGN TV’s called Rauner out on his pre-debate press conference claim…
At a news conference before the debate, Rauner made this false claim: “There were no delays. Immediate action was taken and if there were any change of the health status of a veteran, family members were immediately notified.”
However, e-mails show there was a delay. The state did not notify the families of the veterans living in the home and it also did not notify staff.
* Herald Whig…
“Immediately, the first day, action was taken to keep the veterans safe,” Rauner said.
“Water supplies were shut off. Windows were closed. Fountains were shut down. Bathtubs were drained and no longer used. And the veterans were evaluated for their health condition. Those who were infected were treated promptly. Everyone else was monitored, and the families of those veterans who showed some symptoms were notified immediately when a change in the health condition of their loved ones” was detected.
Pritzker countered that “actions were not taken immediately. In fact, six days went by (before residents and families were notified), and as a result, people got sick and someone died.”
Pritzker pledged he would keep open the Veterans Home if elected governor.
“Actions were not taken immediately,” Pritkzer said. “And as a result of his failures and his fatal mismanagement, he’s now under a criminal probe, as is his administration. It’s a shameful neglect of our veterans, who we should be standing up for every single day.” […]
Insiders say Rauner has come to be embraced by some locals, though, who he’s gotten to know after making trips to the area, even staying overnight at the veterans home and pushing for this year’s budget to include funding of a new campus for veterans, complete with updated plumbing.
The debate played out on a sensitive stage - Quincy, home of the state-run military veterans’ home beset by a deadly Legionnaires’ disease crisis. […]
Rauner has been sharply criticized for his handling of the Legionnaires’ situation and whether his administration notified the public in a timely enough manner, which has become the focus of the criminal investigation launched last week by Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who’s not seeking re-election.
“Much of this so-called criminal investigation is a political ploy to divert attention from the tax fraud that Mr. Pritzker engaged in, and it’s a shameful abuse of power by the attorney general,” Rauner said.
Rauner has been a regular visitor to the Quincy veterans home and plans to return for another stay later this month. The 1886 facility saw a deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 12 residents and sickened dozens more in 2015. Since then, there have been annual outbreaks at the home. A dozen negligence lawsuits have been filed by families against the state, and the governor’s veterans affairs director at the time resigned in June.
This year, a guest from the Quincy home that Rauner featured at his State of the State speech, Ivan Jackson, was later diagnosed with Legionnaires’ and subsequently died.
An investigation by WBEZ-FM 91.5 found that the Rauner administration waited six days before notifying the public about the initial outbreak. The governor has said his staff acted properly because the Legionella bacteria is not contagious and he wanted to avoid any potential panic.
* The juxtaposition here is just… Ouch…
After the debate, Rauner told reporters he’s cried over the deaths at the Illinois Veterans Home and he does not believe he’s trailing by 20 points as a recent poll suggests.