Sen. Durbin Changes His Mind About the Closure of the Quincy Veteran's Home

Jan 5, 2018

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin now says he does NOT believe the state-run veterans’ home in Quincy should close.

That’s even though it’s struggled with persistent Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.

Durbin told WBEZ Public Radio in Chicago last month it’s a “scandal” that the state of Illinois has not been able to rid the veterans’ home water system of Legionella bacteria after three years.

But Durbin talked with reporters Friday after meeting with Governor Bruce Rauner - who’s staying at the home for several days to understand the crisis.

"In terms of closing the home, I don’t believe that is necessary as long as we have a plan to move forward to make it even safer. At the time I made the statement, there was no plan in place, no suggestion of a plan."

A new federal report says despite the state’s efforts - the possibility of future Legionnaires’ cases at the veterans’ home cannot be eliminated.

 

The head of Illinois’ Public Health department is defending his decision to wait six days before announcing the 2015 epidemic of Legionnaires’ disease at a veterans home in Quincy.

 

In investigating the repeated cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the western Illinois facility - WBEZ obtained an email from Director Nirav Shah saying his agency waited six days before notifying the public the situation was the beginning of an epidemic.

Friday - Shah explained why.

"In an outbreak situation we have to be very careful about going down a path. If we go down a path too quickly and issue a press release that goes down the wrong path, it’s very difficult to change course."

11 families whose relatives died of Legionnaires’ disease are suing the state for neglect.

Some say they weren’t told of the outbreak until it was too late.