McAuliffe tells House-Senate veterans panel of his plans to visit Quincy home
House Veterans Affairs Committee Minority Spokesperson Rep. Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago) wanted all the facts at the joint Illinois House-Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday.
“As the Republican spokesperson and member of the Veterans Affairs Committee for many years, I would like to start out from the beginning that my thoughts and prayers go out to the veterans and families who have been affected by the Legionnaires' disease in Quincy, Illinois,” McAuliffe said.
Since 2015, there have been 13 reported deaths due to the disease that has allegedly been transmitted through the water supply piping at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. Gov. Bruce Rauner checked into the facility Jan. 3 to stay a few nights and met with U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Jan. 5 to discuss future safety measures.
“I was encouraged to read that Sen. Durbin and the governor met last Friday and that Sen. Durbin concluded that closing Quincy Veteran Home would be a mistake,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe said he too plans on visiting the 200-acre site in Quincy.
“I have a scheduled meeting to go to the home with other colleagues and I am sorry I wasn’t able to go as of yet, but I look forward to touring the facility myself with other colleagues,” McAuliffe said.
But for now, McAuliffe said he would rely on the witness testimony of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Associate Director for Epidemiological Science Sam Posner, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah and Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs Director Erica Jeffries to keep him informed.
“I look forward to hearing expert testimony regarding Legionella at that institution and what safeguards that institution is doing to mediate future outbreaks,” McAuliffe said.
During the four-hour long meeting, McAuliffe was informed that there have been 300 cases of Legionnaires' disease in the state, according to Shah; and Jeffries testified that digging up mile-long pipelines could cause further spread of the pneumonia-like disease. She said even new piping could be infected with the Legionnaires' bacteria growth found in piping biofilm.
Though the testimony was not promising, McAuliffe said he wanted to do all he could to help eradicate the disease.