Berkowitz w/Gov. Rauner: No regrets by Rauner for not closing Quincy Vets' Home before 13 deaths

That famous Watergate-Quincygate question arises: What did Governor Rauner know and when did he know it?

How many deaths had to occur before Gov. Rauner realized he had a major, systemic problem at the Quincy Vets’ home that required his attention and action?


Jeff Berkowitz: Do you wish you had closed Quincy before those 13 vets died?

Gov. Rauner: What I wish is that no veteran would suffer from Legionella. It is a terrible form of pneumonia and to be clear, we are taking every action that any expert has recommended for us, and let’s be clear: no health expert has said we should have a massive evacuation of that home. That is the home of the residents, that is the home of the veterans—

Berkowitz: Nobody thinks you should close that [Quincy Vet Home]?

Gov. Rauner: No medical expert has said we should have a massive movement of the veterans. That could cause more health- more harm to them physically and disruption and actually cause more deaths, to have a massive quick movement. So, no one has ever called for that.

Gov. Rauner: Thanks very much everybody. I appreciate that [Press conference closes on that note].

The above includes a partial transcript of a 10 minute Q&A presser, held by the Governor following an event on Wednesday morning, March 7, to celebrate, on site, the opening of a new, 500 employee, technically advanced AT&T call center at 2401 Grace, Chicago, IL about 5 minutes west of Wrigleyville.


But, a Chicago Sun-Times editorial of January 5, 2018, citing to a CDC report of January 4, 2018 provides a different perspective:

In 2015, the veterans home had 46 confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ disease and 12 confirmed cases of Pontiac fever, which also arises from Legionella bacteria. Twelve people died from Legionnaires… In 2016, there were five more confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ at the home despite improved training for staff to detect and treat the disease and improvements in the water system…[Emphasis supplied]

Last year [2017], between January and November, there were six more confirmed cases of Legionnaires’ despite additional improvements. One person died. [Emphasis Supplied]

…Yet, as WBEZ reported [on January 4, 2018], the strain found in a single shower head [in 2017] was the same kind tied to the 2015 and 2016 outbreaks. It indicated “persistence of this strain” in the water system, the CDC wrote.

The CDC also noted that officials at the Veterans’ home had addressed previous issues with the water system, adding, “it is probable that this strain persists in protective biofilm, scale and sediment that are present in the plumbing infrastructure.”

The most obvious way, then, to minimize the risk of disease would be to replace miles of old, galvanized pipes, but that would be far too costly. Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries told WBEZ in a report published [in December, 2017] that it would probably cost more than $500 million.

As anybody who has ever owned an old beater car knows, you can take it to the mechanic only so many times before you have to accept that it has to be junked. You’re throwing good money after bad…

The original plumbing at the veteran’s home is as old as the facility itself — 131 years. Civil War veterans lived there.

Lives are in danger. There is no denying the three-year toll, or the continued threat. The time has come to replace the home with more modern and far safer amenities.

Veterans and their families deserve it. [Emphasis Supplied]

So, the point is that if you are a CEO for the State of IL, if you are in charge, you need to be constantly surveying information and changing your position, when conditions, facts on the ground and research warrant that.

That’s what the free market, which Gov. Rauner seems to admire, does. Government and Gov. Rauner should try to mimic that free market.

Before 12 vets died at the Quincy home in 2015, shouldn’t Gov. Rauner have been involved, asking questions, getting expert and other opinons and making decisions. Was he doing that?

That famous Quincygate question arises. What did Governor Rauner know and when did he know it?

How many deaths had to occur before Gov. Rauner realized he had a major, systemic problem at the Quincy Vets’ home that required his attention and action? How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?

In a sense, Governor Rauner has had more than two years to deal with this issue- what has he done to prevent Vet deaths?

At some point as far back as 2015, should the Governor have at least provided the information about this danger to the Quincy Vet Home residents and their families, and given them a choice as to moving or staying.

That’s what a free market does. It gives individuals most directly involved (in many of these cases, that means the families of the Vets) choices to deal with potential risks.

Moreover, if the Governor didn’t do that in 2015, shouldn’t it be done now? Wisdom come lately is better than wisdom not come at all.

Again, in a free market, those directly involved weigh risks and make choices, not a government bureaucrat.

So, shouldn’t the Governor regret that he didn’t act sooner [to give the families of the Vets some choices to move elsewhere] before 13 lives were lost?

Shouldn’t Governor Rauner give the Quincy home vet families involved some choices now? Isn’t this what CEOs or Governors do? When they are acting properly.

Leave a comment