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IDVA terminates LaSalle Veterans’ Home administrator, nursing director placed on leave

Monday, Dec 7, 2020

* One down, more to go…

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs today announced that Acting Assistant Director Anthony Vaughn will serve as the interim Administrator of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home as a search begins for a permanent replacement. Vaughn is assuming responsibilities from former Home Administrator Angela Mehlbrech, who was terminated by the Department. Additionally, the Director of Nursing at the home has been placed on administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation.

These personnel changes follow the announcement of an independent investigation into the outbreak at the home led by the Acting Inspector General of the Illinois Department of Human Services. The response to the outbreak has also included site visits by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs, with IDVA fully adopting all recommendations in both reports in the LaSalle Home as well as all state veterans’ homes.

Acting Assistant Director Vaughn is a 24-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps where he reached the rank of Master Sergeant and served as Administrative Chief and Personnel Chief, among other roles. Upon his retirement from active duty in 2005, he joined the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs where he has served for the past 15 years. Currently, he oversees the IDVA’s team of Veteran Service Officers who provide direct support to veterans across the state.

“IDVA mourns the tragedy of the veteran heroes lost to COVID-19 at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home. We will ensure that CDC and IDPH protocols are followed and full accountability occurs for any lapses in protocols,” said Acting Assistant Director Anthony Vaughn. “All measures will be taken to ensure the health and well-being of the residents we serve and we will continue to support their families and loved ones during this heartbreaking period.”

“I am fully committed to ensuring complete transparency and accountability at all of our veterans’ homes and our department will fully cooperate with the independent investigation as it moves forward,” said IDVA Director Linda Chapa LaVia. “It is our moral obligation to do everything in our power to take care of our veteran heroes. I have full confidence that Acting Assistant Director Vaughn is the right person to take command of the home’s operations during the search for a new home administrator. His background in administration in the United States Marine Corps will serve our residents and their families well during this process.”

While a Marine, Vaughn served at all levels of command including an infantry rifle company, infantry battalion, helicopter squadron, air control squadron, vehicle maintenance battalion, and a tour at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps. His assignments also included a deployment to Beirut, Lebanon in support of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force and mobilization of the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. He supported the Battalion from Camp Pendleton, CA during their deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 – 2005. Vaughn is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 2 gold stars and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 3 gold stars.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

34 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 2:55 pm:

    === Home Administrator Angela Mehlbrech===

    Ok, from Home Administrator Angela Mehlbrech, what chain of information to the tragedy that occurred was missing to get to the governor?

    Unless Home Administrator Angela Mehlbrech had the authorization to go over Director Chapa LaVia, or Chapa LaVia was uninformed to a point that she felt no need to talk to the Governor directly… tough to see this going lower with “changes” when changes are needed from Mehlbrech’s level… going higher.


  2. - Intheknow - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    The Quincy vet home outbreak killed 12 veteran’s. To date, we have lost 32 veteran’s at LaSalle.
    Pritzker admonished Rauner over Quincy when they debated.
    It’s time for Pritzker to answer for his failings just as he asked Rauner to do.


  3. - Citizen Kane - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    Not enough. The Chief of Staff was overseeing the homes because that position was vacant. Assistant Director Vaughn is overseeing the VSO’s because that position is vacant. Some of this is a failure of the legislature for the confirmation process. Their far more culpability in the leadership though and that needs to be reflected in the Governor’s actions from this point forward.


  4. - Dutch - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:14 pm:

    In looking at the numbers of positive cases at LaSalle from reading Ms. Meisel’s Twitter feed, and considering the veteran’s home isn’t taking new residents, the numbers there can only get better. That’s because they’re running out of residents who can even get it before the vaccine comes. I just hope the IDVA doesn’t get to claim a false victory here later on.


  5. - Nagidam - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:14 pm:

    ===- Nagidam - Wednesday, Dec 2, 20 @ 12:12 pm:

    ===Is Sen. Tammy Duckworth going to call for the firing of Chapa LaVia?===

    That would give the Governor cover to fire a female, Hispanic, veteran that was a well liked former legislator.===

    Still true today.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:28 pm:

    ===Is Sen. Tammy Duckworth going to call for the firing of Chapa LaVia?===

    I am surprised at Duckworth’s silence.


  7. - SumGai1986 - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:33 pm:

    ==I am surprised at Duckworth’s silence.==

    Who said there is no honor among thieves, amiright?


  8. - Nagidam - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    Something tells me we are about to hear a spectacular rant from Congressman Bost. Literally we are going to be able to hear him anywhere in the state from Murphysboro.


  9. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:49 pm:

    === no honor among thieves===

    You know we’re talking about deaths of veterans, right?

    Whew.

    - Nagidam -

    As we discussed, maybe “half” thought that.


  10. - Dutch - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 3:54 pm:

    It just occurred to me, you need to have a Nursing Home Administrator License to run a nursing home. Maybe there are exceptions, but as far as CMS and the state is concerned you definitely need one to be in that job. This Anthony Vaughn may or may not be a great administrator. I hope this person is successful for our veteran’s sake. But he doesn’t have a background in medicine, public health, or nursing home administration. I just hope the Governor knows what he is doing here.


  11. - FormerParatrooper - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:15 pm:

    The former Home Administrator has been fired, I would hope it wasn’t a cya action. There is a trail of errors by what is likely several levels in depth. The entire chain from top to bottom needs scrutinized.

    Vaughn has a strong background in several aspects of management. His tenure should help fix the issues that led to the deaths. His lack of a resume for medical doesn’t concern me, a good leader learns from subordinates who may have more experience in something but lack the management abilities to run things. Since he is from outside of the Veteran’s Home agency, he can perform his duty without worry of being the next person who falls.


  12. - BrucePleaf - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:17 pm:

    זוג צעירים עושה סקס עם הרבה תשוקה על הספה בבית
    נערות ליווי


  13. - Citizen Kane - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:21 pm:

    === Since he is from outside of the Veteran’s Home agency === He is currently the Acting Assistant Director of the Agency and has been with the agency for over 10 years.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:23 pm:

    Eventually Director Jeffries resigned.

    === The head of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is stepping down following months of criticism over how Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has handled a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at a state-run veterans home in Quincy.

    Former Army helicopter pilot Erica Jeffries has led the agency since Rauner named her to the post in 2015. An outbreak of the water-borne Legionella bacteria began that year and has claimed the lives of 13 residents since. On Friday, a Rauner spokeswoman said Jeffries is leaving the agency and “accepting an offer in the private sector.”===

    … and Candidate Pritzker still criticized from April of 2018 thru November.

    Director Chapa LaVia is still director.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:33 pm:

    My 4:23 comment was from the Tribune; April 2018

    This is from NBC5 Chicago, April 29, 2018

    === Senator Tammy Duckworth issued a statement of her own, saying that Jeffries’ resignation isn’t enough in the wake of the Legionnaires’ outbreak.

    “This comprehensive failure reflects an administration that appears more concerns with the quality of press coverage than quality of care in Quincy,” she said. “Governor Rauner must now do his part and be held accountable for acting swiftly to put funds to good use on behalf of Illinois’s veterans.” ===

    Director Chapa LaVia is still director.


  16. - 17% Solution - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:39 pm:

    Duckworth silence?

    https://www.duckworth.senate.gov/news/press-releases/duckworth-durbin-discuss-covid-19-outbreak-at-lasalle-state-veterans-home-with-idva-director-call-for-investigation


  17. - Trubisky’s clipboard - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:45 pm:

    ===Is Sen. Tammy Duckworth going to call for the firing of Chapa LaVia?===

    Any response now is too late. The Democrites are holding true to form.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:47 pm:

    - 17% Solution -

    Thanks.

    From that release;

    === “The recent infections of hundreds of staff and Veterans at Illinois Veterans Homes–and the tragic deaths of at least 27 of our state’s heroes these infections have caused–are incredibly troubling and pose a significant public health risk as they threaten even more Veterans’ lives,” said Duckworth. “I appreciated the opportunity to discuss these outbreaks with Director Chapa LaVia this morning and am pleased that under her leadership, the IDVA is working to bring these outbreaks under control and acting swiftly on Senator Durbin’s and my request for an independent review to better serve our Veterans and prevent future outbreaks.”===

    The quote;

    ===“I appreciated the opportunity to discuss these outbreaks with Director Chapa LaVia this morning and am pleased that under her leadership…===

    … and yet Director Jefferies wasn’t enough for Senator Duckworth… but Senator Duckworth appreciates Director Chapa LaVia’s leadership with, at the time of that release, at least 27 deaths?

    Thanks for the cite, I didn’t see Senator Duckworth’s release.

    I’ll leave those remarks as they were written without further comment.


  19. - Citizen Kane - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 4:59 pm:

    Anthony Vaughn legally cannot be the interim Home Administrator. He is not licensed by the IDFPR as a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator. He could be the Incident Commander, but he cannot be the Administrator. This is bad. Time for all the leadership to go. They can’t follow basic laws and regulations.


  20. - Huh? - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 5:05 pm:

    BrucePleaf - Not sure that a google translate version of your post is accurate, but it is anywhere near close, it has nothing to do with the topic of conversation. Briefly, it was something about a couple on a couch.


  21. - yinn - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 5:29 pm:

    ==Anthony Vaughn legally cannot be the interim Home Administrator. He is not licensed by the IDFPR==

    There is at least one loophole. Not all licensed administrators work as administrators. If there’s a person working in the facility who does have a license, Vaughn could “ride” on that license for a few months.

    But of course the eligibility question should be asked.


  22. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 6:23 pm:

    yinn - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 5:29 pm:

    Way to whip out the law books, poindexters.

    Anyway, license schmlicense, he can be food and beverage chairman or entertainment director.


  23. - Captain Obvious - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 6:24 pm:

    Ms Duckworth simply has a more lenient standard for members of her own party. What about that is surprising?


  24. - Citizen Kane - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 6:28 pm:

    ===There is at least one loophole.===

    That’s not how I am reading the statute. He could only be an assistant administrator your example. Or he would have to be issued a temporary license without examination if he were to be the top administrator there.


  25. - southsider - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 7:17 pm:

    Not to argue with the firing squad, but there are real and concrete differences the legionaries outbreak and COVID. The former caused by mismanagement of maintenance and chaotic coverups. The later a global pandemic that has infiltrated every inch of this country.

    Not apples to apples.


  26. - southsider - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 7:20 pm:

    Not to argue with the firing squad, but there are real and concrete differences BETWEEN the legionaries outbreak and COVID. The former caused by mismanagement of maintenance and chaotic coverups. The later a global pandemic that has infiltrated every inch of this country.

    Not apples to apples.


  27. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 7:24 pm:

    === The later a global pandemic that has infiltrated every inch of this country.===

    … yet in April, Chapa LaVia said they were prepared.

    I can pull up the quote if you’d like.

    With respect.


  28. - West Side the Best Side - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 7:30 pm:

    Rich - Hit the second line on BrucePleaf comment. You might want to delete it and ban the commentor. (Not trying to take over your blog, but…)


  29. - Responsa - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 7:35 pm:

    Unless there’s more to the story that as yet is not known to the public, firing Mehlbrech seems a little too far under the radar to address and fix this terrible situation.


  30. - Southern Dude - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 8:47 pm:

    Not sure why anyone is surprised by the lack of response by the Governors Office. We are half way through his term, and JB has shown multiple times now he doesn’t have the ability to lead state agencies. After 2 years, this is who he is.


  31. - Frank talks - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 8:54 pm:

    This will come up in the Gov election for sure. What goes around comes around.


  32. - Cool Papa Bell - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 9:20 pm:

    Does Dir. Chapa LaVia have pictures of somebody?

    This isn’t enough. She’s gotta go.

    Pritzker had stronger words today for Rep. Halbrook and the “snake oil salesman”.

    Dude, you can’t go around ripping those guys, Trump and others if you can’t hand out the heat to someone in your own administration who has this fatal mess on their hands.


  33. - Citizen Kane - Monday, Dec 7, 20 @ 9:22 pm:

    Apparently the IDVA PIO said today that Director Chapa LaVia hasn’t even been to the home during this crisis. Why don’t they have an Incident Command set up? They should have done that on like November 3rd. And the Director should be staying in a command post in the parking lot until this is resolved. Total lack of leadership.


  34. - The Dude - Tuesday, Dec 8, 20 @ 6:18 am:

    Dir. Chapa LaVia needs to go.

    Cmon JB. Do you really want the info to be drip released about their incompetence or would you rather just rip the band aid off.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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