Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said the entire community is proud of the Illinois Veterans Home and the care its residents receive from the facility's more than 500 employees. He said that's evident from the more than 12,000 volunteer hours donated to the state-run facility last year.
Moore spoke during a news conference in the city council chambers. He was flanked by members of a steering committee formed in mid-December following the filing of lawsuits in connection with the Legionnaire's disease-related deaths of 13 residents of the veterans home since 2015.
“We know that the home is doing everything it can to eradicate the bacteria. Everyone involved is working hard to find the best possible outcome," Moore said.
“We were very concerned when a number of well-intentioned elected officials and candidates for office began calling for the closure of the Quincy Veterans Home after lawsuits were filed in response to the Legionella outbreak.
“I want to thank those public servants, especially those on the Veterans Affairs Committees, who are trying to help us get to the bottom of this.”
Moore said the members of the steering committee are:
- State Senator Jil Tracy (R-Quincy)
- State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma)
- Jeff Mays, Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)
- Former State Representative Mike McClain
- Former Mayor C. David Nuessen
- Former Mayor Chuck Scholz
- Marcel Wagner, President of the Great River Economic Development Foundation (GREDF)
Moore said the committee is working to make sure that the veterans home remains open for residents and remains in Quincy for decades to come.
“Regardless of partisan affiliation, regardless of who supported whom for what elections, we are all pro-Quincy, we are pro-Adams County, we are pro-Tri States and most importantly, we are pro-the Quincy Veterans Home and pro-veteran,” said Moore.
Scholz added, "We want this group to not just be focused on caring for our veterans today, but how the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy can evolve to be prepared to take care of the next generation of veterans that will need care at the home."
A separate sub-committee has been formed to promote the regional benefits of the home.
Wagner said GREDF is working with a consultant from Western Illinois University on an economic impact study for the veterans home. He said the annual budget for the veterans home is $54 million and those dollars flow through the local community at a factor of three-to-four times that amount.
“It’s critically important that we identify the impact on our community,” said Wagner.
The steering committee will be represented at a joint hearing of the Illinois House and Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committees in Chicago on January 9. Frese said he and Senator Tracy will participate in the hearing both in their legislative roles and as witnesses testifying on behalf of the Quincy facility.
“Any type of light we can shine on this is a great thing,” said Frese.
“I believe that is the purpose of the hearing that we are going to have on Tuesday. I believe that when the light is shone on the incidents that have occurred in these last two-and-a-half years, you are going to see that the staff and the administration and the folks that work at the veterans home in Quincy have done a remarkable job.”