Seeking answers about the cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home, a joint meeting of the Illinois Senate and House was convened in Chicago on Jan. 9. Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Nirav Shah, joined Erica Jeffries, Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to provide testimony about how the state departments have handled the situation.
The Directors emphasized that the safety and security of the veterans in the Quincy Veterans’ Home are their top priority, noting that they have been following all the recommendations made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) since the outbreak began. The facility has since upgraded its water treatment facility and management plan and tests the water daily.
The Senate Republican spokesman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee later stated his belief that the decisions made by the Illinois Departments of Public Health and Veterans’ Affairs were reasonable, and that the Directors demonstrated they are both personally and fully invested in making sure the Quincy Veterans’ Home is safe for residents.
Later in the week, Gov. Bruce Rauner laid out his plan for minimizing Legionella bacteria risks at the Veterans’ Home in Quincy, which included a commitment from Blessing Hospital in Quincy to deliver Legionella test results within hours, rather than days, of receiving specimens. The plan also includes upgrading the plumbing systems using the latest materials and technologies, a phased installation of point-of-use faucet filters, and working with the city of Quincy to find a new water source for the Home. The Governor said the infrastructure improvements will begin in the coming weeks.
Additionally, Governor Rauner will be appointing a Veterans’ Capital Needs team composed of health experts, veterans’ advocates, state lawmakers, federal officials, and administration staff to develop a long-term strategy to provide the best quality of health care for Illinois’ veterans.