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Legionnaires' Disease

  • Castro on Legionnaires’ disease outbreak: “Our veterans have fought to protect us; it is time for us to protect them.”

    castro 110917SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) attended the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Joint Committee Hearing regarding the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. There have been over a dozen deaths caused by this disease in the past three years.

    “Governor Rauner’s administration should have taken immediate action three years ago,” said Castro. “His administration not being here today for this hearing shows me they aren’t taking this seriously. If they knew this was happening, why did they just sit on the CDC’s recommendations? Why did it take so long?”

    Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found in plumbing systems. Thirteen residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy have died due to this disease over the past three years.

    “Pro-action, pro-action,” said Castro. “I’m tired of excuses. These are our veterans and they deserve dignity. A permanent solution needs to be found.”

  • Castro urges the governor and his administration to take charge

    castro 020718SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) continues to look for answers from state officials regarding a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that caused 13 deaths in the last three years at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    “I want to be part of a solution,” Castro said. “But that requires the Rauner administration – the people who are supposed to run state government – to come clean, be honest and actually put forth a plan to solve the problem.”

    At the Wednesday Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, Castro focused on a 2016 engineering report that the Rauner administration commissioned to try to solve the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy home.

    The plan included replacing the plumbing in select facilities, including those that house the veterans most susceptible to infection. That 2016 report was never acted upon by the Rauner administration. Its existence was not made public until the evening prior to the committee hearing.

    Castro was stunned to learn of its existence and the administration’s failure to do anything with it even as the public health epidemic continued at the Quincy facility.

    “Why did the Rauner administration sit on this report and do nothing?” Castro asked. “The governor and his administration failed our veterans and now they’re trying to paper over their failure with new reports and bureaucratic red tape. That’s unacceptable.”

    The engineering firm is now being asked to expand the plumbing replacement to the entire campus, and Castro said it is long past time to act.

    “If the governor would have taken charge of the situation, he could have solved the problem back in 2016,” said Castro. 

  • Cullerton continues demands for accountability and transparency for Illinois veterans

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  • Cullerton measure requires legislative audit of governor’s Legionnaire’s response

    tc vets resol 021518SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed legislation today that will require a full legislative audit of the governor’s response to the Legionnaire’s disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    This week the Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed two more cases of Legionnaire’s disease at the home, continuing an outbreak that has already claimed 13 lives.

    “Gov. Rauner cannot continue to hide behind smoke and mirrors. We want answers now,” Cullerton said. “The governor’s office has stonewalled our bipartisan committee’s requests for transparency and accountability.  Now I have no other option but to call on my colleagues on the Legislative Audit Commission to launch a full examination into the governor’s response to this tragic outbreak.”

  • Cullerton pushes Rauner for a plan

    ivhq signVILLA PARK- Irked by three years of inaction from Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) filed legislation this week to begin fixing infrastructure problems at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    “Governor Rauner has had three years to come up with a long-term solution to protect these heroes of our nation, and during that time, 13 people have died from the spread of Legionnaire’s disease,” Cullerton said. “My hope is this time the governor will realize the severity of inaction and do his job to provide our veterans the service and care they deserve, not more bureaucratic red tape and band aids.”

    Cullerton aimed to kick start progress at the facility by filing Senate Bill 2308, which would authorize infrastructure improvements at Illinois’ flagship veterans home. The improvements would include updates to the water systems or new construction to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria.

    A veteran himself, Cullerton serves as the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and is leading the way to a legislative fix to the spread of Legionnaire’s disease at any Illinois veterans home.

    State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, is working on building a bipartisan coalition to ensure speedy passage in that chamber once the bill clears the Senate.

    During the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this week, Gov. Rauner’s agency directors made their first request for additional funding to begin construction and renovations at the veterans facility despite the three-year outbreak and 13 deaths at the facility.  

    “If we in the general assembly knew additional funds were needed to improve living conditions and eliminate risk factors for Legionella at this facility, it would have been approved in a heartbeat,” Cullerton said. “Sadly, we are once again waiting on the governor for answers and results.”

    On Wednesday, the governor punctuated a weeklong, well-publicized stay at the Quincy facility with a theatrical press conference calling for funding to either fix water piping systems throughout the complex or build a whole new facility.

    “The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy is a home for our heroes. Not a hotel for the governor to check in and out of,” Cullerton said. “Now that he’s had his picture taken, I would hope the governor’s office will submit legislative language within the next week to begin discussions on how to prevent the death of even one more United States Veteran.”

    While Cullerton is committed to fixing the problems with the infrastructure at the facility, he said he was impressed by the care and the staff at the facility during a recent tour.

    “The care and service residents receive there is exceptional,” he said. “The staff comes to work every day and gives our veterans and their loved ones their very best. Still, our heroes shouldn’t have to wait three years for the governor’s “world-class” work.”

    Cullerton is hoping to have some answers from the governor’s office within the next week.

    “At the end of the day, 13 brave heroes have died on the governor’s watch,” Cullerton said. “We cannot afford to lose another warrior to a preventable disease. Let’s get to work and give our veterans the service and care they deserve.”

  • Cullerton: “This is an emergency”

    tcullerton 022018SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is calling for urgent action to remedy infrastructure problems that caused 13 deaths in three years and three new cases of Legionnaires’ disease this month at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    Despite the continued threat to the health and well-being of veterans and their families that live at the facility, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agency directors did not attend a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing hosted by Cullerton Tuesday. 

  • Manar seeks formal audit of response to veterans home deaths

    manar 021518SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar and state lawmakers are pressing for an audit of the Rauner administration’s handling of a deadly disease outbreak at the state-run veterans home in Quincy.

    The administration has been reluctant to voluntarily produce documents and other information requested by lawmakers that would shed light on the response to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 13 people at the Illinois Veterans Home since 2015.

    The materials could help guide the General Assembly in setting policy and passing laws to protect veterans and employees at the facility and other state buildings where the Legionella bacteria has been detected.

    “By refusing to be cooperative with lawmakers, the Rauner administration has left us with no choice but to seek an audit that will produce the kind of information we need,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee.

    “Our job is to protect our constituents and to act in the best interest of the people of Illinois. Until we can properly assess how this crisis developed and how it was handled, we won’t know what we can do to help prevent more deadly outbreaks in the future.”

    Manar is chief co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 1186, which was adopted by the Senate Thursday.

    The resolution asks that the audit focus on the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs’ management of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and that it include:

    • The department’s responses in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including recommendations made in a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and the department’s actions to address the recommendations.
    • The type, cost and timing of any infrastructure or building improvements that could contain the spread of Legionnaires’ or prevent it from reoccurring.
    • Changes made by the department to its operating protocols and staff training to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’.
    • The nature and extent of monitoring conducted by the department to determine if the changes put in place are effective and ensure the safety of residents and staff.
    • The amount of state money received or expended during fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 for infrastructure improvements, monitoring and other measures to address the outbreaks.
    • Information about whether the veterans home has been the subject of any legal or compliance reviews since 2015 regarding the care of residents and the results of those reviews.

    Three new cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed at the Quincy veterans home this week. No additional fatalities were reported.

    In addition, officials confirmed this week that a patient at the Chester Mental Health Center in southern Illinois has tested positive for Legionnaires’.

    And earlier this month, state employees were notified that Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, was detected at the Illinois Capitol Complex in Springfield.

  • Senators outraged at news of two more confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease

    ivhq signVILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is outraged at news of two more confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    "While the governor continues to live in a fantasy world, creating bureaucratic task forces and dodging requests for information, two more of our nation's heroes have tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease," Cullerton said. "Gov. Bruce Rauner has failed our veterans once again. Our nation's heroes need a solution now. They cannot afford to wait another three years for the governor to finally do his job."

  • Tom Cullerton calls for swift action at Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy

    VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner’s announcement about replacing pipes and improving infrastructure at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy:

    “I’ve visited the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to investigate the water infrastructure problems. It didn’t take me staying there for a week to realize there are significant issues needing swift action to make changes. The governor and his administration need to quickly outline their capital plan to begin action and implement a strong strategy to provide our veterans the best possible care and service.”

  • Tom Cullerton continues quest for answers on Legionnaires' Disease outbreak

    tc 052417VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) continues to look for answers regarding an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    This week he requested the release of any documentation of correspondence from key government agencies pertaining to the outbreak.

    “Committee members left the hearing with a lot of unanswered questions last week,” Cullerton said.  “There is a weakness within the current process; our hope is that additional examination will help guarantee our veterans are receiving the state’s best.”

  • Tom Cullerton fights to give Quincy veterans honor and respect they deserve

    tc 052617SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced legislation today that would require the Auditor General to investigate the response by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy

    Culleton has led the charge to evaluate the actions taken by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and to ensure current protocols and procedures are up to date. He also wants to ensure these procedures were properly followed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

    “Our veterans have served our country with great honor and respect. Sadly, some loyal soldiers were unable to count on the State of Illinois to give them the care they deserved,” Cullerton said. “My hope is a thorough examination will create policies to guarantee our veterans will not perish due to preventable conditions.”  

    Cullerton, who serves on the bipartisan Illinois Legislative Audit Commission, sent letters to fellow members State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) in hopes of cooperating to drive the audit. 

    “The Illinois Auditor General must launch a full examination into the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to give the General Assembly a clear picture of the problems we have on hand,” Cullerton said. “The sooner we examine this atrocity, the quicker we can remedy the situation.”

    Cullerton said this is another example of mismanagement and ineffective usage of state resources by the governor’s administration. 

    “Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has been thoughtless and ineffective in providing care and services to our veterans,” Cullerton said. “I’ll continue to fight for my fellow soldiers like they have fought for me.”  

    Cullerton served as an infantryman in the Army from 1990 to 1993, and he currently serves as the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

    Senate Resolution 1186 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs with bipartisan support and now moves to the full senate for consideration.

    He will reconvene a bipartisan hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 7 to address this issue and continue to examine the care and services veterans receive at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. 

  • Tom Cullerton leads discussion to remedy veterans home Legionaries’ disease epidemic

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  • Tom Cullerton outraged at third confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease this week

    ivhq signVILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is outraged at third confirmed case of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy today.

    “Three cases this week alone and still no real solutions from the governor. Obviously his leadership throughout this entire process -- from the initial 2015 outbreak to where we stand now -- has been an abysmal failure. The time to act is now. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers are willing to take action the moment the governor decides he cares.”

  • Tom Cullerton: Quincy staff is overworked and underappreciated by governor

    vets staff 020818SPRINGFIELD - Staffing shortages and poor flow of information can be added to the list of mismanagement by the Rauner administration at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    The shortages came to light at a bipartisan Veterans Affairs Committee hearing convened by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) Wednesday morning.

    Nette Smith, who works at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy and is the President of the AFSCME Quincy chapter, outlined the staffing concerns Wednesday, noting healthcare personnel are working “tremendous amounts of overtime” while more than 40 positions remain open at the home.