ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Following the deaths of 13 residents at a state-run veterans’ home in Quincy, state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, is joining his colleagues in calling for legislative hearings to examine current safety standards and the quality of care provided to retired service members at Illinois’ four veterans’ homes.
“Veterans who risked their lives for our nation deserve nothing less than the highest quality care during their final years,” said Halpin. “It’s unacceptable that we have men and women who survived combat dying—at the hands of the state—from a disease that’s preventable and treatable with antibiotics.”
According to an investigative report by WBEZ, the Quincy Veterans’ Home experienced three outbreaks of legionella bacteria in the last three years, which led to the deaths of 13 veterans and infected more than 60 others at the facility. Legionella is spread through the air from a water source. Yet despite receiving more than $6 million in taxpayer funds and resources to renovate the Quincy home’s plumbing systems in 2015, the location continues to face outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease.
Halpin is demanding a full legislative audit into the mismanagement of the Quincy Veterans’ Home and the implementation of higher safety standards in veterans’ homes across Illinois to ensure safer living conditions for service members. Additionally, Halpin supports exploring options for Quincy home veterans to reside at Hope Creek Care Center until the situation can be resolved.
“To prevent more veterans from being exposed to toxic bacteria, it may be necessary to refer them to other locations until we have a handle on what’s going on down in Quincy,” said Halpin. “Hope Creek Care Center is already home to a number of veterans, and already has a referral agreement with the Iowa City VA system. If Hope Creek or other facilities around the state have the space available and the capacity to provide better care than the Quincy Veterans’ Home, this is certainly an option worth pursuing.”