AURORA, Ill. – State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora, state Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego, state Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Smithton, and state Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, are demanding a full investigation and legislative hearings into why Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has not taken aggressive action to provide better care for veterans living in state-run veteran homes and to prevent them from dying from avoidable diseases.
“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.”
Following an investigative report by WBEZ, the Illinois Veterans Home, located in Quincy, was discovered to have experienced three outbreaks of Legionnaires Disease spanning from July 2015 to the fall of this year. The disease led to the death of 13 veterans and infected another 61 other residents. Despite receiving more than $6 million in taxpayer money to update the home’s water supply and other safety standards to prevent this disease from spreading, the location continued to face outbreaks.
“It’s clear that the Rauner administration cannot take care of our most vulnerable Veterans. He should have taken personal responsibility to solve this serious problem back in 2015″ Marine Veteran Kifowit said. “This is another example of failure of the Rauner administration and shows that it is true, he hasn’t been in charge. I support a full investigation of the conditions of all our Veterans homes, and extensive legislative hearings detailing this failure of the administration”.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added that the Quincy facility’s plumbing system still poses risks to the health of residents and staff who live and work there. The CDC has noted that due to the building’s old age that completely eradicating Legionella is “very challenging.”
“As Americans, we owe so much to our veterans, and they deserve better than to fall victim to a preventable disease,” Riley said. “Clearly, the governor is not on top of this terrible situation, and he and the Department of Veterans Affairs need to answer for the lack of attention to this issue and explain to the families of the victims why this was allowed to happen.”
Chapa LaVia, Kifowit, Costello and Riley, all of whom are veterans, are demanding there to be a full investigation and legislative hearings to pass legislation that will demand the Governor to implement higher safety standards in veteran homes across Illinois in order to prevent more service men and women from dying from easily preventable diseases.
“As a veteran of the United States Army during Operation Desert Storm, I am disgusted to find out about the treatment of my fellow service members at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy,” Costello said. “It is time for us to take action and prevent another outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease by modernizing the facility.”