* Press release…
As COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of 32 residents at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, State Senators Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) and Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) continue to push for answers about the tragic and ongoing outbreak.
Cullerton and Schimpf, who serve as Chairperson and Minority Spokesperson of the Illinois Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, recently convened a hearing of the committee to learn more about the outbreak. Unfortunately, the hearing left them left with many unanswered questions about the state’s handling of the situation.
Yesterday, December 8th, they made an official request with Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director Linda Chapa LaVia for detailed documentation regarding the outbreak and how officials and employees responded.
“Immediate transparency and answers about what’s happening at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home must be provided before more lives are lost,” Cullerton said. “We hope the clear-cut requests for information outlined in the letter will give the public and General Assembly a better understanding of what went wrong and how we can prevent something like this from happening again.”
“We owe it to the veterans and their families to find out how this tragedy was allowed to happen. Unfortunately, the previous hearing left us all with more questions than answers,” said Sen. Schimpf. “We need to find out more about who was making decisions, and at what levels, to determine where the breakdowns occurred that led to this terrible outcome.”
During the recent committee hearing, the senators note that Director Chapa LaVia committed to absolute transparency as it pertains to the outbreak. Cullerton and Schimpf are grateful for that commitment and look forward to the administration’s cooperation in providing the requested information.
* From the letter…
• Information pertaining to the responsibilities of overseeing the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), and the Veterans’ Home at LaSalle. More specifically, who is the deputy governor responsible for being the point person on issues concerning IDPH, IDVA, and the veterans’ homes?
• Any and all communications concerning the COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home to and/or from the following: Governor Pritzker, Lt. Governor Stratton, Chief of Staff to the Governor Anne Caprara, Chief of Staff to the Lt. Governor Charles Watkins, Deputy Governor Sol Flores, First Assistant Deputy Governor Lizzy Whitehorn, Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell, First Assistant Deputy Governor Bria Scudder, Director of IDPH Dr. Ezike, Chief of Staff for IDPH Justin Dewitt, Director of IDVA Linda Chapa LaVia, Chief of Staff for IDVA Tony Kolbeck.
• IDPH and Veteran Integrated Services Network (VISN) site reports for all Veterans’ Homes in Illinois for comparison between the dates of April 1, 2020 through November 30, 2020 to ensure the implementation of proper protocol at all of Illinois’ Veteran Homes.
• Any written protocols distributed to employees of LaSalle Veterans’ Home concerning COVID-19 and the dates on which those protocols were acknowledged and implemented by employees:
o Policies, procedures, guidelines, rules or protocols for COVID-19 that apply to the veterans’ home, including:
• Date and time of implementation;
• To whom the policies applied; and
• The individuals responsible for carrying out and implementing the policies.
• The dates and times employees of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home were trained in proper COVID-19 mitigation protocols.
• Any and all shift change logs of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home concerning COVID-19 positive cases, isolation orders, and employee recommendations for the handling of COVID-positive residents.
• Number of applicants and awards (if any) for Region 2 Pandemic Health Navigator Grants, including the amount remaining of the $8.8 million available for Region 2.
• Any and all documents, written and electronic, mentioning COVID-19 addressed to and/or from the Illinois Veterans’ Home at LaSalle dated from October 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020.