SPRINGFIELD, Ill. –As a member of the Illinois House Veterans Affairs’ Committee, state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, heard alarming testimony from employees of the Illinois Quincy Veterans’ Home about how they were made aware of the outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease that claimed the lives of 13 veterans or their spouses.
“The situation in Quincy could have been prevented, that much is known, and today’s hearing makes it evident that important information and communication on the outbreak is being kept under wraps by the Rauner administration,” Halpin said. “The administration previously claimed it held a ‘town hall’ on the issue, but later admitted residents were not invited to attend, and the meeting was limited to just staff. Now we’ve been told by the employees that they actually learned about the outbreak beforehand from news reports and social media, with town halls set up after the fact.”
Legislators from both chambers heard testimony today from employees at the home and a detailed timeline of events from their perspective. In a statement, the employees told legislators that they found out about the all three of the outbreaks from news media reports and social media, not from anyone in the governor’s administration, which is responsible for the management of the home.
“Given the alarming testimony by the employees, I think it’s critical that the administration publicly release any emails corresponding to what they knew and when they knew about the outbreak,” Halpin said. “That information is paramount to helping prevent a situation like this from ever occurring again, and will help us in the legislature to determine better way to protect our veterans.”