IDVA defends not releasing Legionnaires' related report


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is defending not attending an Illinois Senate hearing last week and not releasing a 2016 engineering report concerning a deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak. 

“Our number one priority is the safety of our residents and staff,” IDVA Director Erica Jeffries.  “We’re definitely moving quickly to make sure we are continuing to improve upon the plan we put in to place to keep them safe.”

Jeffries and the Rauner administration were blasted by senate Democrats for not attending a committee hearing looking into deaths of 13 people at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy since 2015.  The committee was trying to determine why an August 2016 engineering report indicates it will cost the state $8 million to fix plumbing connected to the outbreak while the administration has suggested estimates of $25 million or more.  Lawmakers say they were unable to obtain the report and eventually received it from a reporter working at the State Capitol in Springfield.

Jeffries tells WAND News the report was put together for the Illinois Capital Development Board, was a public document and easy to obtain.  She also stated it was not her report to release.

“At any time anyone could have had access to that report had they asked for it or had they looked for it,” Jeffries stated.

Jeffries also defended not showing up for the committee session saying she received notice over the holiday weekend and had a previous engagement already scheduled.

As to why the report was not implemented Jeffries indicated she was following recommendations from the CDC.

“It (the report) came out in the summer of 2016 which is about seven months after the CDC guidelines came out.  We thought it was important to take the recommendations of the foremost experts on Legionnaires’ disease and so that’s the plan we implemented,” she said.

Four individuals have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ in the past two weeks.  Senate Democrats are calling for an audit of the Rauner administrations handling of the outbreak.

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