Senate Week in Review: January 8-12, 2018

A joint Senate and House of Representatives hearing to learn more about the incidence of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home was held during the week in Chicago.

Also, in recognition of the National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Senate Republican lawmakers are joining a nationwide effort to raise awareness about this form of modern-day slavery.

Hearing about Legionnaires’ disease at Quincy Veterans’ Home

Seeking answers about the cases of Legionnaires’ disease at the Quincy Veterans’ Home, a joint meeting of the Senate and House was convened in Chicago on January 9.

Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Nirav Shah, joined Erica Jeffries, Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to provide testimony about how the state departments have handled the situation.  The Directors emphasized that the safety and security of the veterans in the Quincy Veterans’ Home are their top priority, noting that they have been following all the recommendations made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since the outbreak began.  The facility has since upgraded its water treatment facility and management plan and tests the water daily.  

The Senate Republican spokesman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee later stated his belief that the decisions made by the Illinois Departments of Public Health and Veterans’ Affairs were reasonable, and that the Directors demonstrated they are both personally and fully invested in making sure the Quincy Veterans’ Home is safe for residents.

Later in the week, Governor Bruce Rauner laid out his plan for minimizing Legionella bacteria risks at the Veterans’ Home in Quincy, which included a commitment from Blessing Hospital in Quincy to deliver Legionella test results within hours, rather than days, of receiving specimens. The plan also includes upgrading the plumbing systems using the latest materials and technologies, a phased installation of point-of-use faucet filters, and working with the city of Quincy to find a new water source for the Home.  Infrastructure improvements are expected to begin in the coming weeks.  Additionally, a Veterans’ Capital Needs team will be created and composed of appointed health experts, veterans’ advocates, state lawmakers, federal officials, and administration staff to develop a long-term strategy to provide the best quality of health care for Illinois’ veterans.

Human Trafficking Awareness

Human trafficking is occurring – right now – across the state and throughout the nation.  Raising awareness in all communities across Illinois and encouraging the public to recognize the signs of human trafficking are important first steps.

In January, the nation observes Human Trafficking Awareness Month, however, the fight to end these types of human rights violations must continue 365 days a year.  In 2017, 100 cases of human trafficking in Illinois were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, but undoubtedly, many more cases went unreported. No community or state, including Illinois, is immune to this form of modern-day slavery.   Experts have found that identifying key indicators of human trafficking is a crucial step to helping victims.

For more information about those indicators, or to report possible victims of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) or the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-252-2873).  For more information about reporting abuse, visit the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services or U.S. Department of Homeland Security websites.

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