Quincy News

State-run vets homes now required to issue quick alerts of outbreaks

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 27, 2018 9:00 pm Updated: Jul. 28, 2018 12:07 am

QUINCY -- State-run veterans home in Illinois must notify residents and their emergency contacts within 24 hours if two or more residents in a facility receive a diagnosis of an infectious disease within a monthlong period or less.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office announced Friday afternoon that he signed a bill that makes the required notification a state law.

The law comes in response to the deaths of at least 13 residents and illnesses of dozens of others attributable to outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home since 2015.

The law also requires veterans homes to post notification of the infectious disease incidence in a visible place near the facility's main entrance. Once those requirements have been met, they must notify the Illinois Departments of Veterans' Affairs and Public Health.

The legislation passed both chambers in the General Assembly without dissent, and it takes effect immediately.

Proponents of the bill said Departments of Veterans' Affairs and Public Health did not notify the public of the 2015 Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home for nearly a week. Twelve lawsuits have been filed against the state in connection with Legionnaires' outbreaks at the home.

Rauner has called for spending more than $200 million to build new facilities on the Quincy ?campus to prevent more outbreaks. This year's state budget earmarked $53 million toward those facilities.

The state already has spent $6.39 million on a water purification system at the Veterans Home, and filters have been installed to capture any Legionella bacteria remaining in the system.

The state also is contributing $3 million toward a new groundwater water source in Quincy.

Renovations also have started on the former Sycamore Healthcare facility near the campus, which was acquired by the state to use for temporary housing during construction at the Veterans Home.

Last week, Rauner signed two bills to consolidate the design and building process.

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