SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois’ veterans’ homes would be required to fully inform family members and the public of disease outbreaks threatening our military heroes under legislation being advanced by state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, correcting the glaring shortcomings of the Rauner administration’s response to the Legionnaire’s disease outbreak that killed 13 veterans in Quincy. Halpin’s bill received bipartisan support in the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

“Proper notification of outbreaks affords families the best chance to help their loved ones before they fall fatally ill,” Halpin said. “Under this legislation, visiting family members will be alerted to look out for symptoms of disease and take appropriate precautions, such as confirming with staff that a resident has been tested.”

Halpin is a chief sponsor of House Bill 4278, which requires Illinois’ veterans’ homes to notify residents and their emergency contacts or next of kin within 24 hours of learning of an outbreak of an infectious disease. An outbreak is defined as when two or more residents are diagnosed with an infectious disease within a month. At a joint House and Senate hearing earlier this year, under clarifying questions from Halpin, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries confirmed that the Quincy Veterans’ Home notified only staff—not residents or their family members—of 46 confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease in 2015.

“The Rauner administration admits that there were clear discrepancies between when the Departments of Public Health and Veterans’ Affairs knew an epidemic was occurring and when veterans’ family members were notified,” Halpin said. “This is unacceptable. This legislation ensures that families have up-to-date information about risks to their loved ones’ health.”

Rep Mike HalpinRep Mike Halpin

(D-Rock Island)
72nd District

Springfield Office:
242A-W Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL   62706
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District Office:
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County Office Bldg.
Rock Island, IL  61201
(309) 558-3612
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