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Cullerton continues to lead on Legionnaires’ fixes (VIDEO)

tc 051018SPRINGFIELD – Three years after the initial outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy, residents of that facility and others like it are still waiting for Gov. Bruce Rauner to be proactive in detecting and removing Legionella bacteria from state-run facilities.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) took charge of the situation Thursday by passing House Bill 4278, which requires an Illinois veterans Home to notify facility residents and their emergency contacts within 24 hours if two or more residents in the home have been diagnosed with an infectious disease in period of one month or less.

“This is a commonsense measure that puts the health of our veterans ahead of bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “In 2015, the families of the servicemen and women residing the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy should have been notified of the Legionnaires’ disease epidemic, but Gov. Rauner’s administration left them and their loved ones in the dark. This is simply unacceptable and we can’t let it happen again.” 

House Bill 4278 also requires veterans homes to post notification of the incidence of the infectious disease in a visible place near the facility’s main entrance.  Once those requirements have been met, they must notify the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Public Health of the incidence of the infectious disease.

“When your loved one is in harm’s way, you want to know,” Cullertons said. “This measure ensures that caretakers and family members have health care information as soon as possible to make the best possible medical decisions.”

The measure was introduced in response to Rauner’s mismanagement of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Quincy Veterans Home. Despite signs of the spread of bacteria reaching epidemic proportions, the state did not notify the public about the deadly 2015 outbreak until nearly a week later.

ivhq signThis week WBEZ reported that a workplace safety reprimand was issued by the state Department of Labor which said the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to effectively notify all employees of the outbreak. This undermines the insistent claims by Director Erica Jeffries that her department was “very clear” in its Legionnaires’ warnings to Quincy staff.

“This is a real shame. The gross mismanagement of the Quincy Veterans Home is disgraceful,” Cullerton said. “If the governor’s administration is refusing to use common sense, the General Assembly will put protocol and procedures in place to ensure our nation’s heroes receive the best possible care and service we can offer.”

House Bill 4278 is supported by the Better Government Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Illinois AMVETS. It passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. 

 

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities.

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.