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House Judiciary Committee launches its own probe into massive outbreak at LaSalle Veterans’ Home

Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020

* Rep. Andre Thapedi, the chair of the House Judiciary - Civil Committee, sent a letter today to Angela Mehlbrech, the administrator of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home

Dear Ms. Mehlbrech:

As you may be aware, the House Judiciary - Civil Committee is embarking on a fact-based investigation into the recent outbreak of SARS-Co V-2, or COVID-19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV-2 at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home in LaSalle (hereinafter ” the Facility”). As part of that investigation, please provide me with the following information relative to personal protective equipment (hereinafter “PPE”) and other things … on or before December 9, 2020:

1. Provide the name, address, email address and telephone number for each and every vendor and manufacturer providing hand sanitizer to the Facility from January 1, 2020 to the present .
2. Provide the name, address, email address and telephone number for each and every vendor and manufacturer providing PPE (i.e . gloves, masks, gowns, face shields , etc.) to the Facility from January 1, 2020 to the present.
3. Provide the name, manufacturer, country of origin and chemical composition of all hand sanitizers purchased for and utilized in the Facility from August 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020.
4. Provide the name, manufacturer, and country of origin of all PPE (i.e. gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, etc.) purchased for and utilized in the Facility from August 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020.
5. Provide any and all rules, regulations, procedures, bylaws, standards , protocols, directives and writings of whatsoever nature relative to health screening (i.e. temperature checks, lab work, testing, etc.) for employees when they arrive at the Facility and when they exit the Facility .
6. Provide any and all rules, regulations, procedures , bylaws, standards, protocols, directives and writings of whatsoever nature relative to health screening (i.e. temperature checks, lab work, testing, etc.) for non-employees when they arrive at the Facility and when they exit the Facility.
7. Provide any and all documents, records, writings, letters, correspondence, memorandum, electronic mail, information in computer storage in printed form and other writings mentioning SARS­ CoV-2, or COVID-19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV-2 that is: (A) dated from August 1, 2020 to the present; and (B) addressed to and/or prepared by the Facility.
8. Provide any and all reports generated in calendar year 2020 following on-site visits and/or inspections at the Facility by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs which should include, but should not be limited to, the on-site visit and/or inspection on or about November 12, 2020 at the Facility.
9. Provide any and all reports generated in calendar year 2020 following on-site visits and/or inspections at the Facility by the Illinois Department of Public Health which should include, but should not be limited to, the on-site visit and/or inspection on or about November 17, 2020 at the Facility.
10. Please identify and state the location of any of the following documents related to the SARS-CoV- 2, or COVID-19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV-2 outbreak which either bears the name, handwriting and/or signature of the Nursing Home Administrator of the Facility (i.e. Angela Mehlbrech): (A) publications and/or literature authored by her, including publication source and reference; and (B) correspondence, records, memoranda or other writings prepared by her regarding the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV-2, and its care and treatment of residents and employees of the Facility.
11. State whether there were any policies, procedures, guidelines, rules or protocols for SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV-2 that were in effect at the Facility. If so, state:

    a. Whether such policies, guidelines, rules or protocols are published and by whom;
    b. The effective date of said policies, guidelines, rules or protocols;
    c. Which medical professionals and employees are bound by said policies, guidelines, rules or protocols;
    d. Who is the administrator of any such policies, procedures, guidelines, rules and/or protocols; and
    e. Whether the policies, guidelines, rules or protocols in effect at the time of the SARS-CoV-2, or COVID- 19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV-2 outbreak have been changed, amended, or altered since the SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, or Coronavirus, or any comparable moniker for SARS-CoV- 2 outbreak. If so, state the change(s) and the date(s) of any such change(s).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at lllinois32district@gmail.com. Sincerely yours,

Representative Andre Thapedi
Chairman - House Judiciary - Civil Committee

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 5:20 pm:

    Good thing the governor stood by Chapa LaVia today…

    I’ll look forward to Chapa LaVia, the sitting Director to answer all questions, not half of them… or give half answers.


  2. - 4 percent - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 5:36 pm:

    Thapedi should make similar requests for correspondence between the Governor’s office, IDPH, Vet’s Affairs (Chapa LaVia). This goes beyond the administrator.


  3. - Really - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 5:40 pm:

    Wow. Somebody from Springfield is pretending to work. Let’s see if anything comes out of this.


  4. - Adjutant - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 6:05 pm:

    This woman is incompetent. Do not expect much.


  5. - FormerParatrooper - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 6:08 pm:

    Pessimistic about this. No one will be held accountable and it will be like the legionnaires outbreak, it will disappear from view until the next disaster hits the Veteran’s Homes.

    I hope I am wrong.


  6. - Tertiary - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 6:09 pm:

    Let’s hope Rep. Andre Thapedi, the chair of the House Judiciary - Civil Committee, or the Illinois House Judiciary Committee or the Illinois House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, or any comparable moniker for House Judiciary Committee, follows through to the bitter end.


  7. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 6:25 pm:

    2 things I’d like to see be added to the investigation. First, staffing levels and shortages. Second, in an “emergency” like this, can the time to bid on AFSCME vacancies be reduced?


  8. - Centennial - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 6:27 pm:

    At least one Rep is paying attention.

    Too bad the VA Chairwoman, and her 18 friends, are too busy playing at politics on Twitter to lead.


  9. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 7:56 pm:

    Someone wants to do some fact-finding before assigning blame.

    How quaint.


  10. - Jan Bradley - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 7:59 pm:

    Director Chapa LaVia is a veteran herself. So to imply she doesn’t care about our veterans is unfair. I know first hand how hard she works and how much she cares about people. If you haven’t noticed COVID has killed over 5,000 nursing home residents in Illinois. Nobody saw this coming . We are all doing our best during this pandemic and should support each other.


  11. - Citizen Kane - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 8:05 pm:

    ===I know first hand how hard she works and how much she cares about people.===

    I wish that she would lead this then
    Literally haven’t heard a peep from her. Why she isn’t on site (even in a command post or.something in the parking lot) really makes me question her leadership.


  12. - SumGai1986 - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 8:07 pm:

    Um… Why does he want the responses sent to his Gmail account?


  13. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 8:16 pm:

    === Director Chapa LaVia is a veteran herself.====

    I thank her for her service.

    === So to imply she doesn’t care about our veterans is unfair.===

    Only veterans care? No one else can care that 24 percent of LaSalle Veterans Home residents have now been killed by coronavirus, 89 percent infected?

    It’s not a question of caring, what is at issue is accountability.

    === If you haven’t noticed COVID has killed over 5,000 nursing home residents in Illinois.===

    How many of those are under the charge of the state of Illinois and with some oversight by Chapa LaVia, that’s what we are talking about, the accountability of the facility, the leadership, not other nursing homes.

    === Nobody saw this coming===

    That makes these deaths and infections sound as though no is responsible for things in place or issues that develop.

    From Representative Chapa LaVia, December 14th, 2017;

    === “Reading the investigative report about the Quincy Veterans Home and the individuals who died from Legionnaires Disease there due to the inability of the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the outbreak is outrageous and shameful,” Chapa LaVia said. “The highest possible safety standards should exist in our veteran homes.”===

    I’ll look forward to Director Chapa LaVia to explain these standards were met here under her watch.

    With respect, and with deep concern too for the victims.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 8:45 pm:

    === Nobody saw this coming===

    April 4, 2020 press conference, Chapa LaVia…

    “ Still, Chapa LaVia said, there are no known cases in any residents of any State veterans homes.

    “The home is following recommendations from local health officials with implementation assistance from the Department of Public Health to continue protecting everyone there,” Chapa LaVia said. “Our facilities are prepared for COVID-19. If cases do occur, we will work with the guidance from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, our local health officials, to isolate, hospitalize residents as appropriate, and protect other residents and our staff from transmittal.””

    To quote above, Chapa LaVia stated.

    “Our facilities are prepared for COVID-19.“

    I’ll look forward to know what happened since April 4, 2020


  15. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 9:10 pm:

    Ow: excellent


  16. - Dutch - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 9:44 pm:

    It has been said that the dirty little secret of the USDVA and state VA systems, outside of people giving direct medical care, is that most of the workers themselves are vets. So, every scandal you see with the federal and state VAs, not involving direct medical personnel, is likely caused by a veteran.


  17. - Citizen Kane - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 9:51 pm:

    I don’t understand why this letter is addressed to the Home Administrator and not the Director. I get wanting the answers but not sure why it isn’t going through senior leadership to get those answers.


  18. - Unionman - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 11:12 pm:

    Confused as to why he is not using his @ilga.gov account. You’d think he’d want to keep all official correspondence on a server controlled by the body he was elected to.


  19. - Ranger - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 12:37 am:

    Chapa LaVia should be held accountable. She knows nothing of leadership or managing an agency. Equating her National Guard stint to real service is an insult. Look for this politician to throw others under the bus.


  20. - Support Veterans - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 8:03 am:

    Can anyone explain why this has become the only focus? What about every other state agency that is having deaths? Why don’t those get attention? This is not a DVA issue this is a state of IL issue.


  21. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 8:07 am:

    === Can anyone explain why this has become the only focus?===

    Is this a whataboutism?

    Shouldn’t we all be concerned about veterans under the state’s charge?

    What exactly are you saying, unless the focus shifts at others too the concern for veterans under the state’s charge is… misguided?


  22. - Dutch - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 8:29 am:

    The issue with waiting for an investigative report before taking actions is if there was negligence, or a worse case scenario of willful misconduct which led to the deaths at LaSalle, is that many months will have passed with that person or persons being allowed to still work directly with veterans before such report is issued.


  23. - Citizen Kane - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 8:40 am:

    ===What about every other state agency that is having deaths?===

    Please cite the other State Agencies that have a 9 out 10 infection rate and 1 out 4 death rate. Be happy to talk then. Until then, the focus needs to be on caring for those who have sacrificed so much for us - which includes simple things like stocking the right hand sanitizer and buying the correct PPE.


  24. - Not for nothing - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 8:43 am:

    Members don’t have ilga accounts anymore. They were spammed all the time.

    Also, no one saw this coming is probably the worst possible excuse a defender of LCV can offer. She’s a big girl. She can handle it.


  25. - MyTwoCents - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 9:10 am:

    This should only be 1 part of the investigation. There should be a thorough review of all the actions from how COVID was introduced in the home, how it spread, etc. through who knew what & when from the home to the director to the Governors office.

    As for “no one saw this coming” that would have worked in March or April. It is now November/December, we have been dealing with this for almost 9 months. There are no more excuses.


  26. - striketoo - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 9:32 am:

    All of this discussion begs the fundamental question of why the state of Illinois with its mounting fiscal problems is even in the business of providing shelter for a relative handful of its veteran population. Maybe it’s time to pare back some of the state’s many responsibilities to a fewer number that it can really do a good job of accomplishing instead of failing at many. The people who populate the comments section of this group probably have more insight into this issue than any other in the state and yet maintaining the unsustainable status quo seems to be their only goal.


  27. - Bravo - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 10:21 am:

    Kudos to OW for immediately referencing the “Half” remark from a few years back. Well played sir. [hat tip]


  28. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 10:24 am:

    Long Term Care residents make up 1 percent of the US population and 39 percent of the deaths. Once COVID gets inside a facility — unlike Legionnaire’s disease — it is nearly impossible to control.

    Call for “herd immunity” were soundly rejected on this blog in part because experts warned that widespread community transmission would make it impossible to keep the virus out of LTCs and schools.

    Despite the threat of a pandemic, nearby Utica moved forward with a major tourist attraction Columbus Day weekend (minus the burgoo), drawing locals, merchants, bikers and other tourists from across the Northern half of the state. Thousands gathered without masks. They were facepainting for heaven’s sake. There are receipts:

    https://www.mywebtimes.com/lists/2020/10/11/0c35b2f4f392488fbc8880f69451e146/index.xml?page=1

    It sure didn’t help things that Starved Rock had its usual fall surge of hikers packed in the trails tighter than sardines with no mask enforcement.

    It should come as no surprise there was an outbreak within the home in LaSalle County, just as there are outbreaks in LTCs across the country, because its what epidemiologists have been warning all along.

    People should stop looking for a scapegoat. We don’t need a scapegoat, we have science to tell us exactly what happened, and how to keep it from happening again, and hopefully Thapedi’s investigation will help with that.


  29. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    - Bravo -, thanks.

    === People should stop looking for a scapegoat.===

    I’ll let Chapa LaVia counter;

    “Our facilities are prepared for COVID-19.“

    That was April 4, and when there are so many deaths and infections, it’s not scapegoating, it’s holding accountable poor leadership, and wondering aloud why a political appointee heading an agency seemingly can’t call the governor during this crisis, and what exactly, since that April 4th quote changed, not the specifics that we already know, the missing leadership by Chapa LaVia, who herself held the Rauner administration accountable… and if we’d like to discuss more whataboutisms, we can revisit quote after quote by Chapa LaVia (and others) about caring and accountability to veterans in the homes.

    With respect.


  30. - Jan Bradley - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 1:30 pm:

    I see the Monday morning quarterback position is filled.


  31. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Dec 3, 20 @ 1:37 pm:

    - Jan Bradley -

    If Chapa LaVia isn’t up to the job, maybe she should step down.

    ===Monday morning quarterback===

    Lives already lost don’t care if it’s Monday, Thursday, any day.

    Chapa LaVia herself wanted accountability with Rauner’s administration, you don’t hold Chapa LaVia to her own standards?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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