Veterans Task Force Demands New $245M Facility in Wake of Legionnaires’ Disease
The Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force is demanding the state of Illinois build a $245 million state-of-the-art skilled nursing care facility in the wake of Legionnaires’ disease that has claimed the lives of 13 residents of a state-run veterans home in Quincy since 2015.
The recommendations include:
• Building a new, state-of-the art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
• Constructing a new, underground water loop that feeds existing buildings and new construction.
• Develop an alternate water source and make improvements to the existing water treatment facility as necessary.
• Purchase and renovate the closed, off-site nursing facility to provide a safe and comfortable temporary living environment for up to 180 IVHQ residents. The facility could hold up to 90 residents permanently.
The estimated cost of complete reconstruction is between $202 million and $245 million, which requires the approval and appropriation of the General Assembly.
“Legislators from both sides of the aisle have promised to put financial support behind our efforts to rebuild this home and take care of the veterans who have served our country,” Gov. Bruce Rauner said. “Our number one goal is to protect our heroes. We’ve already taken significant steps to reduce the risks of Legionella at the home and we look forward to working with the General Assembly to put stronger protections in place.”
The Task Force report also put forth the following legislative initiatives that will expedite the process on rebuilding the campus and protecting Illinois’ heroes for generations to come.
- Pass SB 3128, which will extend the sunset date for the Design Build Act (30 ILCS 537/5) and permit CDB to use the design-build delivery method on public projects.
- Pass SB 667, SB 3127, and SB 3144, which will allow the state to access federal reimbursement funding for capital projects. There is presently more than $12 million in the fund, with an additional $4 million expected in the near future. The bills have cleared the senate and are currently awaiting action in the Illinois house.
- Increase thresholds for financial disclosures in the Illinois Procurement Code. Section 50-35 of the Procurement Code (30 ILCS 500/50-35) requires financial disclosures from all vendors and subcontractors with a contract over $50,000 prior to work beginning on a project. Waiting for compliance from vendors and subcontractors can slow the project start time. Increasing the threshold for financial disclosure requirements form $50,000 to $250,000 can help expedite the projects referenced in this report.
- Modify the Veterans Affairs Act, granting licensing and control of off campus buildings to ensure continuity of care for residents who are housed at the off-site nursing facility.
“We are working with the General Assembly to draft language for the legislative initiatives and look forward to passage by the May 31st deadline,” said Michael Hoffman, senior advisor to the governor.
The report is available here, on the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs website.
SOURCE: state of Illinois news release