Quincy Water Management Task Force to review plumbing assessment, make recommendations

“I’m honored to serve on the Water Management Task Force and pleased the governor continues to move forward and investigate ways to improve water safety at the Quincy Veterans’Home.  We must provide a safe and healthy environment for our American heroes.”Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Alpha)—–

A new Quincy Veterans’ Home Water Management Task Force will meet next week to review a plumbing assessment report that were released today, Gov. Bruce Rauner said.

The governor created the task force after living at the home for a week in January.

“The task force will take a comprehensive look at the water system and offer recommendations on how we can achieve our goal of eliminating every possible risk of Legionnaires’ disease,” Rauner said. “The task force will augment the efforts of the working group at the Quincy Veterans’ Home that routinely updates its water management plan and reviews treatment protocols to improve safety.”

Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Jeffries will lead the task force comprised of federal, state and local officials including state Sen. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, Rep. Ann Williams, D-Chicago, and Rep. Daniel Swanson, R-Alpha.

The plumbing assessment covers the main water loop at the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy and explores next steps ranging from replacement and shadow systems to completely new water sources and use of alternate chemical disinfectants. BRiC Partnership LLC, an Illinois-based engineering firm experienced in health facility plumbing systems, conducted the assessment, which was finalized Monday, Feb. 5.

Rauner has asked the task force to review feasibility options for new construction and for building on remediation efforts already under way.

The latest efforts include:

  • Replacing all 63 resident room faucets in the Elmore building at a cost of $14,000.
  • Fitting new Elmore building faucets with point-of-use filters and changing them every 31 days to trap Legionella and other bacteria before they flow into the water stream. Cost is $4,200 a month.
  • Installing laminar flow nozzles on all faucets on the campus to enhance routine anti-bacterial sink flushing at a total cost of approximately $900.
  • Performing urine antigen tests (UATs) in 24 hours or less at the Illinois Department of Public Health to detect Legionellosis infection.
  • Performing UATs at Blessing Hospital in Quincy with turnaround in just a few hours once they are online.

“My number one goal is, and always has been, to make sure our heroes are safe and healthy,” Rauner said. “We’re asking this task force — and a second one on capital development to be announced soon — to help us fulfill this mission.”

State officials continue to consult with national experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on improving water safety at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.

The CDC notes in its most recent report that the state’s prompt action to address the outbreak in 2015 has significantly reduced the number of Legionnaires’ disease cases and the amount of detectable Legionella in the water systems at the home. This immediate response, along with the care provided by IDVA staff, helped prevent the deaths of many veterans.

“Our team is committed to the safety of the veterans who live at the Quincy home. They are our family and we work every day to make sure they have exceptional care,” the IDVA’s Jeffries said. “I’m excited to work with a group of leaders who will provide fresh ideas and recommendations on how we can continue to improve on our remediation efforts.”

“The safety and care of the veterans’ home residents are the top priorities,” Sen. Tracy said. “I look forward to working with the task force to help eliminate the risks associated with the water systems and ensure the safety of the facility’s water conditions.”

“I take this role to protect our veterans very seriously,” Sen. Haine added. “It was my honor to serve with my brothers in war, and it’s my honor to serve them now.”

“It is my hope that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Water Maintenance Task Force can be an additional tool to help ensure Illinois is doing everything it can to keep our veterans safe and healthy,” Rep. Williams said. “I look forward to a robust and thorough review of how best to protect the men and women who have served our country.”

“I’m honored to serve on the Water Management Task Force and pleased the governor continues to move forward and investigate ways to improve water safety at the Quincy Veterans’Home,” Rep. Swanson said. “We must provide a safe and healthy environment for our American heroes.”