05302018CM0241VILLA PARK – A new Illinois state law sponsored by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) will protect veterans at state homes from epidemics like the deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

Cullerton’s legislation, which was signed into law on Friday requires Illinois veterans homes 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 a period of one month or less.

“This new law will put the health of our veterans ahead of government bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “When your loved one is in harm’s way, you have a right to know. Now that right is the law.”

House Bill 4278 was pushed 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.

“In 2015, the families of the servicemen and women residing in 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,” Cullerton said. “This is simply unacceptable and we can’t let it happen again.”

The new law 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.

In Quincy, 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.

“Our veterans have put their lives on the line for us and it’s our duty to protect theirs in their golden years,” Cullerton said. “If the governor’s administration is refusing to use commonsense, the General Assembly will put protocols in place to ensure our nation’s heroes receive the best possible care and service we can offer.”

House Bill 4278 was supported by the Better Government Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Illinois AMVETS. It goes into effect immediately.

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District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
P: (630) 903-6662
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122 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
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