New Dorms, Not Just New Pipes, Are Latest Proposed Fix For Quincy Veterans’ Home

The entrance to the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

The entrance to the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.

Andrew Gill/WBEZ

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration now says it plans to rebuild dormitories at the Quincy veterans' home where Legionnaires' disease continues to be a problem.

That's according to Erica Jeffries. She is director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Republican Rauner said in January after a week-long stay that antiquated plumbing would be replaced.

Legionnaires' disease is caused by bacteria in water vapor that's inhaled. Thirteen Quincy residents have died from the pneumonia-like malady since 2015.

Jeffries told a joint meeting in Chicago of the Illinois House and Senate Veterans' Affairs committees Monday that the plan now is to demolish and replace problematic residence halls on the Quincy campus during the next three to five years. And she said plumbing replacement would not be a good use of money and cause too much disruption in the meantime.

Meanwhile, a study requested by a panel established by the mayor of Quincy shows that the economic impact of the Illinois Veterans Home extends far beyond the city of Quincy and well above the facility's $54 million annual budget.

Robin Hanna with the Rural Economic Technical Assistance Center in Macomb conducted the study to find the Veterans Home's economic ripples statewide. He says the "total economic output" is $90.7 million a year in Illinois.

The Quincy Herald-Whig reports that a steering committee assembled in January by Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore sought the study.

Moore says the study shows that closing the Veterans Home would have an economic effect on more than just the city of Quincy.

The steering committee established by Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore has focused on finding the best ways to upgrade the Veterans Home after Legionnaires' disease outbreaks, which began in 2015. The outbreaks resulted in 13 deaths and more than 60 illnesses.

Story source: WILL