Rauner “Would Not Do Anything Different” In Response to Legionnaires’ Outbreak That Killed 13
Rauner Administration Hampering Inquiry into State’s Botched Response
At an editorial board meeting with Crain’s Chicago Business today, Governor Bruce Rauner said he would not have done anything different in response to the Quincy Veterans’ Home scandal. Over three years, 13 people died at Quincy from Legionnaires’ disease in the water system. A major investigation by WBEZ provoked questions about the state’s slow response, and even prompted Rauner to stay at the Quincy home for a week. Yet, Rauner still could find nothing wrong with his administration’s response. Rauner told Crain’s, “we’ve handled it exceptionally well and we would not do anything different.” (Watch the video here).
Well, yesterday’s headlines seem to conflict with Rauner’s bold statement:
WBEZ Headline: “Illinois Public Health Director Denies ‘Cover-Up’ Of Legionnaires’ Outbreaks.”
Associated Press Headline: “Health Chief Requires FOIA From Senator to Release Emails.”
WCIA Headline: “Legionnaires’ hearing lacks transparency.”
State Journal-Register Headline: “Lawmakers criticize agency directors over Legionnaires’ outbreak.”
A joint legislative committee investigating the state’s response heard yesterday testimony that some home workers had to hear about the outbreak from news reports. And lawmakers were angry that Rauner’s administration is requiring them to file public records requests, and denying them, to access emails and records about the outbreak. If Rauner’s confident they did everything right, why is his administration hampering an inquiry?
“Bruce Rauner’s refusal to acknowledge mistakes is exactly why he’s a failed leader,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Thirteen people died at a state-run facility and Rauner refuses to admit his administration should have done better. And now, Rauner’s administration is hampering an investigation instead of working to find out what went wrong. Rauner needs to be honest and transparent with the public about how his government can function better, not hide behind empty statements.”
Question: How would your administration have better handled the Legionnaires’ outbreak in Quincy?
Rauner: We’ve handled it exceptionally well and we would not do anything different. As soon as that happened, we determined what the cause was. We believe that there have been issues there in that facility and in other facilities around the state before. We found the true cause, because we went further than what other had done. We found the true cause and we immediately brought in CDC experts, the national experts, we studied it quickly and implemented all the experts’ recommendations immediately. And we got complimented from the national experts on the actions we took and since then we are constantly monitoring and constantly trying to improve the situation there. Everything we’ve done, excellent. Doctor Nirav Shah and Erica Jefferies have done a terrific job. The simple fact is, Legionella is here in Illinois in many water systems, Northwestern University hospital just had some cases, this is relatively new facility. It’s very well managed, it’s in the water systems in various places, one of the things that has changed is the amount of testing for it. It just got found in the state capitol. Living Legionella bacteria in the state capitol. It’s a particular problem for facilities that have concentrations of older individuals who have more susceptible immune systems. And so, my mission, my goal, and I am relentless on this, is to try and bring zero infections to Quincy. And whether we need to completely replace the plumbing, completely replace maybe the building, we’re gonna try to bring it to zero cases and we’ll strive to do that everyday.