Mendoza wants community input and local resources to be part of plan to keep veterans safe

QUINCY, IL — Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza visited the Quincy Veterans Home Thursday to meet residents and learn more about the home and the Legionnaires' disease epidemic that has claimed the lives of 13 residents.

The Comptroller was joined by State Senator Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, chair of the Illinois Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, and State Representative Linda Chapa La Via, D-Aurora, chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Former CMS Director Mike Hoffman showed them upgrades to the basement water system in the Elmore Infirmary where the lion’s share of Legionnaires' cases happened. Four more veterans came down with Legionnaires' disease just this year.

Despite the steps the Rauner Administration has taken so far, Mendoza said she would like to see a more comprehensive plan implemented more quickly, for less than what she called the administration’s dubiously high estimate of $265 million to finally fix the problem and keep the veterans safe. Senator Cullerton likewise questioned whether that high price tag was a “real” number. The administration has had three years to act.

“The governor unveiled his list of priorities for this spring legislative session this week, and funding for the Quincy Veterans Home was nowhere to be seen on that list. It seems there is no sense of urgency with this administration to get the job done,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “Residents of the Quincy Veterans Home, their families and the public at large deserve the unredacted truth about how this administration plans to address this daily threat to the health and safety of veterans and their caregivers.”

Above all, the Comptroller emphasized, the one-of-a-kind facility should remain on these beautiful campus-like grounds in Quincy.

“The Quincy Veterans Home is a gem in this community and a true home to the veterans and their spouses who live here. They told me that. Many residents have family in the area, and they should not be cut off from those connections.” Mendoza said. “I met caregivers who treat the people who live here like family and veterans who have given much to our country and freedom. They all deserve to work and live in an environment that provides comfort, dignity, and safety.”

The Comptroller has also met with community and labor leaders in Quincy to assess available ways to address the crisis. Mendoza is calling on the Rauner administration to look for resources in the Quincy area and take input from local voices as part of a desperately needed plan to protect residents as quickly as possible, not on the Governor’s 4-5 year timeframe.


You can download the PDF version of this release here.