The Latest: Officials pledge cooperation on Legionnaires’
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on the Illinois Senate’s inquiry in the Legionnaires’ disease crisis at the Quincy veterans’ home (all times local):
Officials with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cabinet agencies invited to a hearing on the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy veterans’ home say they couldn’t attend because of the short notice.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Cullerton called the hearing Tuesday in response to an Associated Press report last week about replacing potentially problematic plumbing at the home where 13 have died from the pneumonia-like illness since 2015.
The fourth case diagnosed in the past week was confirmed Tuesday.
The AP reported that a 2016 report by Belleville-based BRiC Partnership estimated plumbing updates at $8 million. That’s far below what officials have said the report listed as the cost.
No one from Veterans’ Affairs, the Public Health Department or the Capital Development Board attended the hearing. CDB hired BRiC. Spokeswoman Leslie Strain says officials want BRiC experts to offer input but couldn’t attend Tuesday.
Spokesmen for Public Health and Veterans’ Affairs both said their agencies’ directors told Cullerton they couldn’t attend but will cooperate and attend a rescheduled meeting.
Illinois officials have confirmed a fourth case of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy veterans home in a week.
The Departments of Public Health and Veterans’ Affairs announced late Tuesday that a resident has been diagnosed with the pneumonia-like malady.
It’s the fourth case announced by state officials since Feb. 13. The illness caused by Legionella bacteria inhaled from water vapor first appeared in 2015 and has returned each year since.
It has led to the deaths of 13 residents at the 130-year-old home and had put Gov. Bruce Rauner under intense scrutiny about his response to the problem.
Senate Democrats blasted Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration for failing to appear to answer questions about a report showing a possible fix for a veterans’ home beset by Legionnaires’ disease would cost far less than what officials have repeatedly said.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Cullerton called the hearing for Tuesday after the Associated Press obtained the report last week. He says the administration told him officials couldn’t attend on such short notice.
The AP reported the August 2016 engineering estimate shows replacing plumbing that likely harbors the deadly Legionella virus at the Quincy home would cost $8 million. Officials told lawmakers it would be at least $25 million.
Democrats said there’s no reason the administration can’t answer questions about a report they’ve had 18 months. Republicans say they want answers but understood the timing problems.
The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee plans a hearing Tuesday on a 2016 engineers’ report that estimated an $8 million cost to replace plumbing at a veterans’ home stung by Legionnaires’ disease.
The Associated Press reported last week that the estimate is far below the $25 million to $30 million cost Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration had cited to lawmakers. Experts have said since the first outbreak at the Quincy home in 2015 that antiquated plumbing could house Legionella bacteria responsible for the deadly pneumonia-like malady.
Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries initially told WBEZ Chicago that new plumbing could cost more than $500 million.
Elgin Democratic Sen. Cristina Castro requested a copy of the report. The administration gave her one only after AP obtained it under the public-records law.