Illinois News

Rauner names official to oversee response at Veterans Home

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 2, 2018 5:20 pm Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 8:45 pm

QUINCY — Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed a top state official to provide operational oversight at the Illinois Veterans Home.

Rauner on Friday said Michael Hoffman, who has directed Central Management Services for the state, will lead the next phase of the state’s response to the health crisis at the Veterans Home. Hoffman, a retired Marine officer, will become a senior adviser to the governor with operational oversight of the Quincy facility.

His appointment was effective Friday afternoon.

“Our response at the Quincy veterans home involves multiple state agencies, medical and epidemiological experts inside and outside state government, facilities and engineering experts, local government, elected officials, federal government, and more,” Rauner said.

“The recent series of highly unusual winter disease episodes and the growing long-range complexities call for a center of operational control. Mike Hoffman is a problem-solver. His project management skills and knowledge of the many agencies involved will bring together the people, resources, and ideas that are needed to best serve our veterans.”

There have been 13 deaths and more than 60 illnesses connected to Legionella bacteria since 2015. Four new cases of the illness, which can develop into pneumonia, have been diagnosed since the start of 2018.

The state spent $6.39 million on a water purification system at the home that adds chemicals to water and heats it to kill Legionella and other bacteria. It also installed filters where the water is dispensed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has helped direct efforts to find and eradicate the Legionella bacteria from the home.

Hoffman’s appointment is designed to help centralize responsibility for and reporting of all aspects of the Veterans Home response. It also means that agency directors and staff in the Public Health and Veterans’ Affairs departments will have a single point of coordination for their Quincy-focused plans and activities.

Dave MacDonna, public information officer for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, said Hoffman will have operational oversight of the Legionella eradication effort. His appointment does not change any of the responsibilities of home Administrator Troy Culbertson or Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries.

Before his service in state government, Hoffman spent more than 15 years on active duty as a Marine Corps infantry officer. During his military service, he served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was awarded two Bronze Stars, one for valor in combat. He has been acting head of CMS since January 2016.

Jeffries said she looks forward to Hoffman’s work to keep Veterans Home residents and staff safe.

Mike McClain, a former Illinois lawmaker and member of the Quincy steering committee for the Illinois Veterans Home, said Hoffman has an excellent reputation in the Capitol.

“He’s a man of his word, so that’s the kind of guy we need representing the Illinois Veterans Home,” McClain said.

CMS Chief Operating Officer Tim McDevitt will be promoted to replace Hoffman at the management agency. McDevitt brings knowledge and experience in key areas of CMS’s operations.

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