* Seems a bit much…
Some Republicans in the General Assembly, including House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, are calling for a criminal investigation into the coronavirus-related deaths at the state-run LaSalle Veterans’ Home.
The push for a criminal probe comes after a state investigative report was released Friday that found there were widespread failures at the LaSalle facility and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs that contributed to 36 resident deaths there since November. […]
“I wouldn’t say we’re at the level of probable cause, but it certainly does warrant further investigation on whether or not criminal negligence did take place because not only were (veterans) injured and became ill, but we did have deaths at that facility,” Durkin, of Western Springs, said at a news conference Friday.
* Excerpt from a Sen. Sue Rezin press release…
In March 2019, the Illinois Auditor General released a performance audit following the deadly Legionnaires’ Disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. While some of the audit’s recommendations explicitly dealt with Legionnaires’ Disease, others dealt with responding to any type of outbreak. Those recommendations were:
Recommendation 3 (Report page 100): Monitoring by IDPH
• “The Illinois Department of Public Health should revisit its policies and determine what response timeframe is adequate to conduct on-site monitoring visits in response to a confirmed outbreak…”
• “The Illinois Department of Public Health should increase communication with the facility’s staff during future outbreaks to ensure that IDPH is aware of the severity of the outbreak.”
Recommendation 4 (Report on page 100): Recommendations by the CDC
• “The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs should ensure the state facilities, such as the Quincy Veterans’ Home, implement all recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control following confirmed outbreaks…”
The Pritzker Administration ignored every one of these recommendations. According to legislative testimony by IDPH’s chief of staff, the agency had no policy for conducting on-site monitoring visits in response to a confirmed outbreak. The Pritzker Administration did not implement new communication protocols to ensure IDPH was fully aware of the severity of the outbreak since agency personnel failed to arrive on-site for nearly two weeks. Despite the Auditor General’s recommendation, there were no mechanisms to ensure CDC recommendations were being followed at the LaSalle home or any other state-run facility.
“A LaSalle Veterans’ Home nurse summarized the outbreak response by saying, ‘nobody seemed to know what to do,” said Sen Rezin. “Nobody indeed knew what to do at the Veterans’ Home, and nobody cared to do anything about it at the Governor’s Office.”
She makes some good points.
*** UPDATE *** Press release…
Law firm Levin & Perconti is representing more than a dozen families whose loved ones died from COVID-19 following a massive outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home in November.
A recently released Illinois Dept. of Human Services Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report documents extensive failures by the facility’s management and executive leadership at the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, including a lack of proper staff training and an absence of pandemic-specific policies and procedures, as well as the failure to create a specific plan of action in case of an outbreak, even as COVID positivity rates spiked in the surrounding community.
Levin & Perconti, nationally renowned for its work representing victims in nursing home abuse and neglect cases, is pursuing cases on behalf of COVID victims in multiple private nursing homes across the state and recently filed suit on behalf of the family of 90-year-old Richard Cieski, Sr., a Korean War veteran who died as a result of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home outbreak.
“What has been revealed by the OIG report is very much consistent with what we’ve seen at other facilities where these massive outbreaks happened,” said Levin & Perconti partner Michael Bonamarte. “There are well-documented ways to protect nursing home residents from infection, clearly outlined in federal guidelines, but when leaders fail to put those protocols into practice with adequate policies, procedures and training, we see the devastating consequences of those failures. These are predictable and preventable tragedies.”
Bonamarte and the firm are already representing multiple LaSalle Veterans’ families and urge others to come forward to share their loved ones’ stories as well.
“These Illinois veterans and their loved ones deserved better,” Bonamarte said. “We are seeking to hold the responsible IDVA leaders and managers accountable for their failure to protect the elderly veterans in their care. The veterans’ loved ones want to make sure their voices are heard, their loved ones’ legacies of service are honored, and other veterans receive the quality care they deserve.”
* Kinzinger releases statement on LaSalle Veterans Home report
* Swanson reacts to report on outbreak at LaSalle Veterans Home