Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner used a trip to Quincy Tuesday afternoon to thank the Illinois General Assembly for passing a balanced budget that includes $53 million for the Illinois Veterans Home.
“Today is a very good day for our heroes here at the Quincy Veterans Home,” said Rauner. “It’s a very good day for our wonderful staff… this is an extended family here in this wonderful home, and it’s a great day for Adams County and all of Illinois.”
The Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy has been the site of several outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in recent years, leading to the deaths of 13 residents and to dozens more residents and staff members getting sick.
Rauner said the state is working with the top experts in the country, including the CDC, to come up with the best solution to combat the outbreaks of the disease, which is a serious type of lung infection or pneumonia.
The CDC’s website states Legionnaires' disease is caused by breathing in small droplets of water that contain the bacteria Legionella, which can be more prevalent in older water systems, like the system at the Illinois Veterans Home.
Rauner said that is why Illinois is planning to spend several hundred million dollars to build a new, modern residence on the Quincy campus and a new water distribution system. He said even though he originally asked for funding closer to the full amount, the $53 million in next year’s state budget is a “great step forward.”
“The General Assembly was a little bit unusual,” said Rauner. “Normally, when we estimate a project, the full amount of the project is appropriated. They did not do that, they appropriated the first year amount [of the five year project]. But the first year is fine. It’s $53 million. It’s going to allow us to do everything we need to do in year 1.”
Rauner said "everything" includes finishing the design and engineering work for the campus improvements, some on-site demolition, and the acquisition and renovation of a former health care center nearby that could be used to house residents during construction.
Rauner also announced Tuesday that the state will close on the property on Friday, June 8.
“We will be investing several million dollars to upgrade that facility and make it appropriate for our heroes,” said Rauner.
Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore thanked the Governor and the General Assembly for their efforts to keep the Illinois Veterans Home open in his city.
“This $53 million investment is going to provide the health care that our veterans deserve and provide a state-of-the-art facility so veterans and future generations can continue to call this facility home,” said Moore, adding that the facility employs more than 500 people who care for more than 350 veterans and their families.
“This is the true definition of a partnership and it is a win for everyone. It is truly a great day for Quincy.”