The outbreak of COVID-19 at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home last year led to the deaths of 36 veterans and positive tests from 200 residents and staff at the nursing home.
A report from the Office of the Inspector General released last week determined that a lack of preparation contributed to the scope of the outbreak at the nursing home.
Alpha Representative Dan Swanson, whose district includes the northern half of Galesburg, lays the blame for what happened at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home on the feet of Governor JB Pritzker — who was critical of former-Governor Bruce Rauner following an outbreak of Legionella at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.
“Governor, when you made a political issue out of our veterans’ deaths at Quincy, I gave you the benefit of doubt it was about protecting our heroes and not scoring political points on dead veterans. Your failures are your own. You own them. You failed to protect our heroes despite knowing the life and death implications of failing to respond.”
The Inspector General’s office found that a lack of preparation at the home and failures to communicate at the home and within the Veteran’s Affairs Department leadership team also contributing to a delayed response to the outbreak.
“I mean, seeing this report from the Inspector General — to be totally honest with you, I’m mad and it upset me. These veterans survived battlefield conditions to succumb within the walls of our Illinois Veterans Home. Their families trusted us with their care and protection. The report details a lack of leadership from within the Pritzker administration. 36 of our hometown heroes are dead.”
Since the outbreak, the IDVA has taken steps to correct issues. Both the department and the Veterans’ Home implemented policies and procedures to reduce the risk of outbreaks among staff and residents. Additionally, Governor Pritzker appointed Terry Prince, a 31-year Navy veteran with experience in military and veterans’ medical care, to serve as Acting IDVA Director.