02072018 RSSPRINGFIELD - Staffing shortages and poor flow of information can be added to the list of mismanagement by the Rauner administration at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

The shortages came to light at a bipartisan Veterans Affairs Committee hearing convened by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) Wednesday morning.

Nette Smith, who works at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy and is the President of the AFSCME Quincy chapter, outlined the staffing concerns Wednesday, noting healthcare personnel are working “tremendous amounts of overtime” while more than 40 positions remain open at the home.

“The staff at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy is doing an amazing job providing our veterans and their loved ones with the best possible care,” Cullerton said. “But it is alarming that they are over 40 open positions at the facility that need to be filled.”

When the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease hit, Smith said she found out through media reports, and staff members were often unable to attend informational meetings regarding the outbreak because they were busy doing their jobs. On-duty staff members often missed the once-daily formal briefings and were not given more opportunities to be informed.

“Keeping staff in the dark is a disservice to not only the staff but the residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy,” Cullerton said. “How are medical personnel supposed to make sound and educated decisions without a complete picture?”

Cullerton is working toward a legislative remedy to implement staff notification requirements at state facilities such as the Quincy home, but he said the first step will be a basic level of respect from those in charge.

“We have a staff that is overworked and underappreciated by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration,” Cullerton said. “The staff comes to work every day and gives our veterans and their loved ones their very best. The governor’s office now needs to step up and give them the respect and care they deserve in return.”

02072018CM0131 RSSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is still fighting for answers regarding a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 13 residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy in the past three years.

Cullerton called another bipartisan House and Senate Veterans Affairs hearing Wednesday morning, but it raised more questions as Rauner agencies had few answers.

“It seems like the only way to get information from the governor’s administration is to hold a hearing,” Cullerton said. “It sounds awfully bureaucratic but if this is the only way for us to institute meaningful long-term solutions to protect our nation’s heroes, I will hold a hearing every week.”

Last month, Cullerton requested information from the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Public Health regarding the veterans home. Appallingly, Gov. Rauner’s legal team stonewalled Cullerton’s requests.

“All I want is some answers and to know that our veterans are receiving the best possible care,” Cullerton said. “Instead of working with me to ensure we have the proper protocols in place, the governor’s office continues to hide behind FOIA laws. Our state agencies and government bodies are supposed to be transparent. What is he trying to hide?”

On top of Rauner’s legal objections, the Illinois Capitol Development Board released a report on the facility late yesterday evening, giving committee members just hours to read and fully comprehend it. Cullerton is still waiting on a copy of the original 2016 report commissioned by the department in response to the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease deaths as well.

“Additional taskforces and more publicity stunts aren’t going to fix this problem,” Cullerton said. “We need transparency and cooperation from Gov. Rauner’s administration.”

Taking progress in his own hands, Cullerton has already sponsored 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.

State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), the chief sponsor of the measure in the House, is ready to move the bill forward as well, but Cullerton is still waiting on finalized figures from the governor’s staff.

“We have bipartisan support to provide the home with whatever they need to keep our veterans safe,” Cullerton said. “Our veterans have waited three years for a solution; the time to act is now. If the governor won’t take charge, I will.”

Cullerton plans on holding additional hearings until there is a long-term solution in place.

cullerton tom2014SPRINGFIELD – Senator Tom Cullerton (D-VILLA PARK) released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner’s state of the state address:

“Today was simply another Bruce Rauner pep rally from an alternate universe. Back-porch deals, crony warehouse contracts and a public health scandal at a veterans home are all he has to show for three years in office. This governor continues to live in a fantasy land while everyone else tries to deal with the realities he ignores.”

05312017CM0529RSSPRINGFIELD - State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced legislation today that would require the Auditor General to investigate the response by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy

Culleton has led the charge to evaluate the actions taken by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and to ensure current protocols and procedures are up to date. He also wants to ensure these procedures were properly followed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

“Our veterans have served our country with great honor and respect. Sadly, some loyal soldiers were unable to count on the State of Illinois to give them the care they deserved,” Cullerton said. “My hope is a thorough examination will create policies to guarantee our veterans will not perish due to preventable conditions.”  

Cullerton, who serves on the bipartisan Illinois Legislative Audit Commission, sent letters to fellow members State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) in hopes of cooperating to drive the audit. 

“The Illinois Auditor General must launch a full examination into the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy to give the General Assembly a clear picture of the problems we have on hand,” Cullerton said. “The sooner we examine this atrocity, the quicker we can remedy the situation.”

Cullerton said this is another example of mismanagement and ineffective usage of state resources by the governor’s administration. 

“Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has been thoughtless and ineffective in providing care and services to our veterans,” Cullerton said. “I’ll continue to fight for my fellow soldiers like they have fought for me.”  

Cullerton served as an infantryman in the Army from 1990 to 1993, and he currently serves as the chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

Senate Resolution 1186 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veterans Affairs with bipartisan support and now moves to the full senate for consideration.

He will reconvene a bipartisan hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 7 to address this issue and continue to examine the care and services veterans receive at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

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Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
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Springfield, IL 62706
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