CHICAGO – With outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease since 2015 resulting in the deaths of 12 residents at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy, IL, state Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, is supporting a measure that would bring stricter requirements for reporting instances of infectious diseases.
“Although Rauner’s administration claims that the tragic losses were unavoidable, there were far too many questions to be answered regarding the incidents in Quincy, especially concerning the delay in notifying residents and the public about the dangerous outbreak that the facility was facing,” said Mah. “Families and residents who knew about the potential risks that the facility had would have been able to make decisions about what would be best for their health. This piece of legislation codifies the urgency that our veterans deserve when it comes to these kinds of situations of life and death.”
Mah is a co-sponsor of House Bill 4278, a measure that would require any veterans’ home to notify residents and the residents’ emergency contacts within 24 hours of learning that there are two or more residents in the home who are diagnosed with an infectious disease within a month. It calls for residents and emergency contacts to be notified in writing, giving options available and also requires the veterans’ home to post visible notice at the home. In addition, the veterans’ home would be required to notify the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Public Health, who must then provide information on their websites by the next business day.
“What happened to these American heroes can never be taken back and my heart goes out to their families,” said Mah. “It is my hope that the proactive steps we are taking can provide assurance to families of veterans all throughout the state. We have to hold veterans’ homes accountable for being transparent with what is happening around our loved ones who live there.”
Mah represents the 2nd District, which includes the Chicago neighborhoods of McKinley Park, Pilsen, Chinatown, Bridgeport, Brighton Park and Back of the Yards.