Durbin, Duckworth want action on Quincy vets home

Posted: Mar. 4, 2018 12:01 am

To The Herald-Whig:

More than 40 days ago, following his weeklong campout at the Illinois Veterans' Home Quincy, Gov. Bruce Rauner stated his goal for IVH Quincy was to reach "zero instances of Legionella infection." And yet in the past few weeks, the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported four new cases of Legionnaires' disease among residents.

It is clear, and extremely troubling, that the governor has not only failed to address these annual outbreaks at IVH Quincy in a timely and adequate fashion since the first epidemic in 2015, but he continues to delay in creating and pursuing a targeted plan of action.

On Jan. 18, we wrote to Rauner and requested a copy of his plan of action at IVH Quincy. We urged him to immediately implement all recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the past few years and commit to informing the public in a more timely fashion of any additional cases. Finally, we reiterated our request that he conduct a review of IDVA and IDPH leadership, as we remain troubled that his administration has failed to adequately mitigate and prevent Legionnaires' outbreaks.

We received a response to this letter in late February. However, the letter neglected to mention the new cases of Legionnaires', and it still failed to provide the specific plan of action. Moreover, it ignored our request for a review of IDVA and IDPH leadership.

Instead, the governor has dusted off a previously secret, years-old proposal from the Capital Development Board, asked for it to be updated, and then released it as his own. His new Water Management Task Force has yet to publicly comment on it. In fact, IDVA Director Erica Jeffries stated in the recent Illinois General Assembly hearing that it may take months for the task force to finalize a plan of action.

We have both visited IVH Quincy in recent weeks. We met with the excellent staff and the Illinois families who entrusted the well-being of their loved ones to the state, and yet Rauner has neglected IVH Quincy and our veterans. He has a responsibility to ensure that neither these residents -- who have served and sacrificed so much for our country -- nor any member of IVH Quincy's extraordinary staff dies from or contracts this terrible disease.

We are standing by to provide federal financial and technical assistance. But first, the governor must promptly provide and pursue a specific plan of action.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin, D-East St. Louis, Ill.

Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, Ill.