Durbin Visits Illinois Veterans' Home at Quincy

Urges State to Quickly Implement All of CDC’s Recommendations, Commit to Disclosing All New Cases of Legionnaires’ Disease at IVH Quincy to the Public in a Timely Manner

QUINCY – In the midst of growing concerns about Legionnaires’ disease at Illinois veterans’ homes, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin today visited Illinois Veterans’ Home (IVH) at Quincy to meet with leadership and tour the facility. Durbin called for improved transparency from Governor Rauner and his Administration in disclosing all new cases of Legionnaires’ disease and has urged the state to comply with all recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent future outbreaks. Since 2015, more than 60 people have contracted Legionnaires’ disease at IVH Quincy and 13 people have died as a result.


“What has taken place at the veterans’ home in Quincy over the past three years is nothing short of a scandal and an insult to our veterans,” Durbin said. “There have been a series of unacceptable errors by Governor Rauner and his Administration—including a refusal to publicly disclose, in a timely manner, confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s at IVH Quincy and a refusal to engage with national public health agencies and experts sooner—and it is time for them to stop.  We can’t just throw our hands up and say ‘these things happen.’ Our veterans and their families deserve much more.”


Since the first Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2015, Durbin has been in contact with state and federal agencies to make certain that IVH Quincy is taking the proper steps to provide a high quality of care to our veterans and their families, and to prevent any future outbreaks. Durbin has called for a review of the state’s response and has worked to ensure that the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs and the Illinois Department of Public Health implement all of CDC’s recommendations in a timely manner. For example, the CDC recommends that all potable water fixtures should have filters installed and regularly replaced to help minimize the risk of Legionella exposure. To date, the state has only installed filters in showerheads - not in sinks or other faucets and fixtures.


At the request of Senators Durbin and Duckworth in early December, the U.S. Government Accountability Office is conducting a review of Department of Veterans’ Affairs oversight of nursing home care across the country, including state veterans’ homes such as Quincy. 


Legionnaires' disease is a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia. It's caused by the Legionella bacteria found in both potable and non-potable water systems.  Each year, an estimated 10,000 to 18,000 people are infected with the Legionella bacteria in the United States.


Recent reporting by WBEZ revealed that Illinois public health officials delayed informing the public for nearly a week about a deadly 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a state veterans’ home in Quincy despite knowing the facility was facing “the beginning of an epidemic,” according to internal emails from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office.  Further, WBEZ reports that the state has repeatedly provided misinformation regarding the number of confirmed cases of Legionnaire’s disease and the timeline of the state’s response.  Eleven families are now suing the state for negligence.