Senator Durbin Visits Marion VA and Cairo

Oct 10, 2017

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited the Marion VA Medical Center Tuesday to look into potential issues with patient safety and care.

There is an ongoing investigation at the facility related to mismanagement and retaliation against whistleblowers.

Durbin says he talked with staff about their concerns.
"It's impossible for me to say, just sitting there, whether what they say is honest or accurate. But, I take it at face value. What's at issue here is the safety of the patients...and that's number one. I then met with the administration. First, I said don't be harsh on these whistleblowers. This is an important part of their job. Secondly, let's look at this very seriously and make sure we're doing our best by our veterans."

He says doctors and other professionals will give reports in the next few weeks about whether there are any practices or standards that need to be changed at the Marion VA.

"The bottom line is of course we owe this to our veterans. We got to give them the best. In the overwhelming majority of treatment given at Marion VA, the veterans are happy with it. They're pleased with the results and there are no questions asked."

Durbin says he's concerned about recent reports that claim retaliation against whistleblowing workers, abuse of employees, unfair labor practices and nepotism. His biggest concern is how these accusations impact the quality of care for veterans.

Durbin and Senator Tammy Duckworth sent a letter in July to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs inspector stressing the need for a comprehensive review of the Marion VA.

Most of the families who will be displaced when two large housing complexes in Cairo are closed still remain in their residences.

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin visited the Alexander County community Tuesday. He says 40 of the nearly 200 families have or are planning to move. He says the rest want to stay in town, but there simply is not enough housing stock to absorb them.

Durbin says he's working with federal, state and local officials to find viable housing options.
"If we, and this is a big if, IF we can find a developer who would build manufactured housing that can replace these awful housing developments, then maybe that's a way out. But, let's not give up on finding good, quality, safe places for these folks to live. It's not their fault this housing division is such a mess."
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced in April it planned to close the Elmwood Place and McBride Place developments because they're unsafe.