SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (by Cole Lauterbach, Illinois News Network) -- Gov. Bruce Rauner’s task force to address ongoing problems with the Quincy veterans home wants the state to spend about $230 million to build a state-of-the art facility in place of the aging home beset by water problems.
The Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force recommended Tuesday that the state move the remaining residents out of the facility that’s seen 13 deaths since a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires disease. More cases were diagnosed this year.
The task force recommended building a facility estimated to cost up to $230 million along with funding another $6 million to $7 million in costs for temporary housing and water maintenance. They estimate the new facility could be built in 4 to 5 years and the temporary one, located in the vacant Sycamore Health Center, would be able to accept residents in less than a year.
Specifically, the task force recommended:
- Building a new, state-of-the art skilled nursing care facility that could house up to 300 residents.
- Constructing a new, underground water loop that feeds existing buildings and new construction.
- Develop an alternate water source and make improvements to the existing water treatment facility as necessary.
- Buy and renovate the closed, off-site nursing facility to provide a safe and comfortable temporary living environment for up to 180 IVHQ residents. The facility could hold up to 90 residents permanently.
Rauner told reporters earlier Tuesday that the biggest issue with the existing facility is the patchwork of aging pipes that are capped in some areas.
“There are buildings that got torn down,” he said. “The plumbing that went to those buildings is still underground and capped off. That’s dead-end water that can sit there and breed pathogens.”
The project is estimated to cost nearly $250 million.
Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday that he would work to ensure federal funds help pay for it.
Rauner has been criticized from both sides of the aisle for his handling of the outbreak in Quincy. Erica Jeffries, Rauner’s secretary of veterans’ affairs, announced last week that she would step down in May.