Connelly asks if Phigenics or Nalco could assist in Legionnaires' outbreak probe at Quincy veterans home
Sen. Michael Connelly (R-Wheaton) got right to the point at the joint Illinois House-Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearing Tuesday on the Legionnaires' disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
“Is it fair to say sitting here today we still don’t have an answer to the definitive source of the Legionella at the Quincy home?” Connelly asked regarding the Legionnaires' outbreak that has caused 13 deaths since 2015.
“Right now we do not have definitive source,” Erica Jeffries, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs, said. “We do have a lot of places where we have found detection, but we do not have a definitive source.”
Jeffries said other expert witnesses, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director for Epidemiological Science Sam Posner, would say the same.
“It is very rare that an actual source is ever identified for Legionnaires',” Jeffries said of the deadly bacteria that has been found in the 200-acre underground water piping system.
“Is it the extensive testing of the water?” Connelly asked of why experts have testified the disease is coming from the water piping at Quincy’s.
“Absolutely,” Jeffries said.
Connelly said his district could be of assistance since it is "the water management capital of Illinois," with both Phigenics and Ecolab's Nalco directly off Routes 88 and 59.
“I have learned all I need to know about Legionella from my first visit to Nalco,” Connelly said.
The senator wanted to know if Jeffries would be willing to allow the water management companies to tour Quincy.
"Do you today have the ability to bring in a company like that or some other company to come in and do a comprehensive review of what is going on at Quincy to see if they can find a solution in lieu of a $50 to $100 million dollar expenditure," Connelly asked.
“We do have the procurement process in place to write a proposal and accept bids for private companies to offer a suggestion of how they would come in and do a comprehensive review," Jeffries said, adding the Veterans' Affairs Department already works with Phigenics and has the utmost confidence in the team and their ability to assist in water management. "I would be happy to write a request or proposal for any number of private companies who would like to come in."
“It just seems from my perspective, are we bringing in all of the experts,” Connelly said. “Everyone here agrees, it's just so unacceptable what happened at Quincy and I know we all want to come up with a solution.”
Jeffries said no options are off the table.