Report Issues Scathing Review of Handling of Pandemic in State’s Veterans Homes

By Benjamin Cox on May 7, 2021 at 9:59am

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says he wouldn’t have hired a person to run the Illinois Veterans Department if he knew then what he knows now.

The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs released a scathing report on the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans Home that took the lives of 36 people. Pritzker says new acting director Terry Prince and IDVA have begun taking corrective actions at the facility. Pritzker said he called for the report and investigation at the LaSalle home because he felt that the citizens of the state deserved to know what happened.

Illinois House GOP leader Jim Durkin says that more work needs to be done rather than simply issuing a report and setting up a new director to the department. Durkin and the Illinois General Assembly GOP are calling for accountability and possibly a criminal complaint being filed against those responsible for the mishandling of the pandemic in the homes.

Former IDVA director and former State Representative Linda Chapa la Via resigned in January following news of mishandling the outbreak. When asked why he hired the former Army veteran and Aurora native, Pritzker said it was due to her previous work in rooting out issues at the Quincy Veteran’s Home and the Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak during the Rauner Administration. Pritzker says he regrets the decision: “If I knew then what I know now, I would not have hired her.”

In the inspector general’s report issued last Friday, they specifically called out Chapa LaVia for abdicating her responsibilities on the management of the outbreak. The report also called out systemic mismanagement from a deputy director at IDVA on down to the veteran’s home staff.

In March, discrepancies in COVID-19 deaths and cases at the Quincy Veterans Home were also reported. The Quincy home’s administrator, Troy Colbertson, said numbers were being misrepresented through the Illinois Department of Public Health. No cases have been reported at the facility since February, where 27 deaths occurred.