Illinois workplace safety officials reprimanded state veterans’ officials for how the agency told staffers about a deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at a Quincy veterans’ home, according to documents.
The Illinois Department of Labor reproach focused on emails that Illinois Veterans Home administrators sent to state workers, WBEZ Chicago reported Thursday. State labor officials said the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs “failed to effectively notify all employees” about the outbreak. Labor officials also said the veterans’ agency didn’t instruct workers about “proper precautions to avoid or eliminate exposure in a timely manner.”
The disease has caused the deaths of 13 residents since 2015 and made dozens more residents and staff members seriously ill. State labor officials became involved after two sickened staffers complained to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
AFSCME, the public union representing some Quincy workers, argued the veterans’ home didn’t do enough to warn employees about the disease threat.
Illinois Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries, who resigns next week, said Quincy employees were kept informed about the outbreak through emails, meetings and informational material posted at nursing stations.
“We communicated effectively to our staff and to our residents and certainly to the family members of each resident that was exhibiting signs and symptoms of pneumonia,” she said in a statement.
Her spokesman, Dave MacDonna, said the veterans’ affairs department “has been transparent concerning its response to the outbreak in 2015 and has provided thousands of documents to both members of the media and the General Assembly.”
State Department of Labor spokesman Ben Noble said former state Labor Director Hugo Chaviano approved issuing the written reprimand but said there was no citation because no workplace safety standards were violated. Noble said the department hasn’t received any follow-up complaints.
Rauner’s administration last week recommended starting fresh at the western Illinois home with a state-of-the-art facility on the 130-year-old campus costing between $190 million and $230 million.
Was this article valuable?
Here are more articles you may enjoy.