05312017CM0529RSVILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) continues to look for answers regarding an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

This week he requested the release of any documentation of correspondence from key government agencies pertaining to the outbreak.

“Committee members left the hearing with a lot of unanswered questions last week,” Cullerton said. “There is a weakness within the current process; our hope is that additional examination will help guarantee our veterans are receiving the state’s best.”

Cullerton sent formal requests to the Office of Governor Bruce Rauner, Illinois Capital Development Board, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Illinois Office of Management and Budget, Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The sooner the bipartisan committee is able to examine protocol and procedures, the faster we can establish responsible and sound guidelines to better serve our nation’s heroes,” Cullerton said.

The letters specify the request is for “all electronic and paper communication records and documents between the dates of June 15, 2015, and Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, that contain information directly or indirectly related to or references to the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.”

“We have a long way to go to guarantee our veterans live out their golden years in safe environment,” Cullerton said. “Let’s continue to work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure our heroes live in world-class living conditions.”

052214 js 0399VILLA PARK- Irked by three years of inaction from Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) filed legislation this week to begin fixing infrastructure problems at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

“Governor Rauner has had three years to come up with a long-term solution to protect these heroes of our nation, and during that time, 13 people have died from the spread of Legionnaire’s disease,” Cullerton said. “My hope is this time the governor will realize the severity of inaction and do his job to provide our veterans the service and care they deserve, not more bureaucratic red tape and band aids.”

Cullerton aimed to kick start progress at the facility by filing Senate Bill 2308, which would authorize infrastructure improvements at Illinois’ flagship veterans home. The improvements would include updates to the water systems or new construction to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria.

A veteran himself, Cullerton serves as the Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and is leading the way to a legislative fix to the spread of Legionnaire’s disease at any Illinois veterans home.

State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, is working on building a bipartisan coalition to ensure speedy passage in that chamber once the bill clears the Senate.

During the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing this week, Gov. Rauner’s agency directors made their first request for additional funding to begin construction and renovations at the veterans facility despite the three-year outbreak and 13 deaths at the facility.

“If we in the general assembly knew additional funds were needed to improve living conditions and eliminate risk factors for Legionella at this facility, it would have been approved in a heartbeat,” Cullerton said. “Sadly, we are once again waiting on the governor for answers and results.”

On Wednesday, the governor punctuated a weeklong, well-publicized stay at the Quincy facility with a theatrical press conference calling for funding to either fix water piping systems throughout the complex or build a whole new facility.

“The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy is a home for our heroes. Not a hotel for the governor to check in and out of,” Cullerton said. “Now that he’s had his picture taken, I would hope the governor’s office will submit legislative language within the next week to begin discussions on how to prevent the death of even one more United States Veteran.”

While Cullerton is committed to fixing the problems with the infrastructure at the facility, he said he was impressed by the care and the staff at the facility during a recent tour.

“The care and service residents receive there is exceptional,” he said. “The staff comes to work every day and gives our veterans and their loved ones their very best. Still, our heroes shouldn’t have to wait three years for the governor’s “world-class” work.”

Cullerton is hoping to have some answers from the governor’s office within the next week.

“At the end of the day, 13 brave heroes have died on the governor’s watch,” Cullerton said. “We cannot afford to lose another warrior to a preventable disease. Let’s get to work and give our veterans the service and care they deserve.”

051915 js 0211.resizeVILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner’s announcement to replace pipes and improve infrastructure at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy:

“I’ve visited the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to investigate the water infrastructure problems. It didn’t take me staying there for a week to realize there are significant issues needing swift action to make changes. The governor and his administration need to quickly outline their capital plan to begin action and implement a strong strategy to provide our veterans the best possible care and service.”

american flagCHICAGO- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) convened a joint bipartisan hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee to examine the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to help better serve and protect Illinois veterans.

“This legislative forum serves as a crucial opportunity to examine the process our state uses to protect one of our most vulnerable populations,” Cullerton said.

The joint committee heard from representatives from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine and research the response and protocol in place to prevent similar outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease at Illinois veterans’ homes.

“Our nation’s heroes have fought to protect our values and freedoms,” Cullerton said. “It is our great obligation to give a voice to the thirteen veterans and loved ones who unfortunately lost their lives to a preventable illness.”

Last month, he toured and met with staff and residents at the Illinois Quincy Home for Veterans to better understand the protocol at the home. Cullerton was impressed with the care and service patients received.

“This hearing is the first step to ensure our veterans have the best possible care, as well as the peace of mind that they will live out their golden years in a safe and responsible home,” Cullerton said. “We made some progress today, however we have a long way to go to guarantee our state’s heroes have an exceptional quality of life and service.”

However, Cullerton was disappointed that senior staff from the governor’s office did not provide testimony or make themselves available to answer questions before the committee to help give the public greater insight.

A veteran himself, Cullerton plans to hold additional hearings to further examine and institute best practices in veterans’ facilities throughout the state.

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