Illinois Republicans Call for Criminal Inquiry into LaSalle Veteran Virus Deaths | Coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD – Some Republicans in the General Assembly, including parliamentary minority leader Jim Durkin, are calling for a criminal investigation into the coronavirus-related deaths at the state-run LaSalle Veterans Home.

The push for a criminal investigation comes after the release of a state investigation report on Friday, which found there were widespread failures at facilities in LaSalle and the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs which have contributed to the deaths of 36 residents since November.

State Department of Social Services Inspector General’s Office report found the facility had not prepared for an outbreak, lacked infection control plans or policies, and had major communication issues , staff training and education. He also revealed that senior officials at IDVA and LaSalle facilities were not taking control or actively managing the outbreak as it became a crisis.

Durkin, a former Cook County district attorney, said a criminal investigation into the deaths should be opened because there is criminal law specifically dealing with the mistreatment or neglect of a resident of a long-term care facility. duration.

“I wouldn’t say we’re at the probable cause level, but it certainly warrants further investigation into whether criminal negligence occurred because not only (veterans) were injured and became ill.” , but we’ve also had fatalities at this facility, ”Durkin, of Western Springs, said at a press conference Friday.

The Long Term Care Resident Abuse or Neglect Act states, in part, that a person commits criminal negligence when he “recklessly commits life-threatening acts. a resident in danger, his health suffers. .. or which create a substantial probability that the life of an elderly or disabled person will be in danger, (or) that their health will be damaged. “

Representative Deanne Mazzochi, R-Elmhurst, who practices civil law, said the report contains examples that should be further investigated to ensure that criminal law has not been broken during the LaSalle epidemic.

“It is reasonable to know that placing a COVID-positive patient in the room of a COVID-negative patient is going to endanger or threaten their health or their life,” Mazzochi said.

She was referring to an incident in the report where staff described a positive and negative veteran placed in the same room. The veteran who tested negative was then transferred to an uninfected wing of the facility, despite being exposed to the positive person.

Durkin and Mazzochi have said the Illinois attorney general may conduct a criminal investigation into the deaths.

“We have a precedent that was set in Adams County on behalf of the state attorney general who opened the grand jury to determine whether or not there was criminality, with the actions at Quincy Veterans’ Home “Durkin said on Friday.

In 2018, then Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, launched a criminal investigation into how the administration of the government of the day was. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, responded to the deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Quincy between 2015 and 2018 that killed 13 veterans.

That investigation ended in 2020, under current Attorney General Kwame Raoul, also a Democrat, who concluded there was no reason to lay charges.

“You have to follow the evidence and match it to the law, and it is very dangerous to have the presumption when opening an investigation that there has to be a charge,” Raoul told WBEZ earlier. this year in an interview. on the end of the criminal investigation into the deaths at Quincy. “Sometimes the evidence just won’t get you there. That’s not to say it wasn’t worth investigating in the first place. “

Senator Sue Rezin, a Republican from Morris whose district includes the LaSalle house, said she also urges Raoul to review the report and details surrounding the outbreak to determine whether a criminal investigation is warranted.

“Out of respect for the LaSalle Home Veterans and their loved ones, I hope he will thoroughly investigate any possible wrongdoing, just as he did during the Quincy Veterans House Legionnaires outbreak. “Rezin said in a statement to CNI on Monday.

A spokesperson for Raoul’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth on Monday wrote a letter to Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough asking the department to provide resources and assistance to state-run veterans homes in Illinois.

Their letter also notes that USDVA provided technical assistance to the Quincy Veterans Home following the outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in that country.

Durbin and Duckworth, both Democrats, supported Madigan’s 2018 decision to open a criminal investigation into Quincy’s deaths.

A spokesperson for the Senators did not respond to a question on Monday as to whether they would support a similar investigation into the LaSalle deaths.

Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service covering state government and distributed to over 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service covering state government and distributed to over 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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