Illinois state senator tours veterans home where 12 died of Legionnaires' prior to joint hearing

Democratic State Senator Tom Cullerton toured Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy on Tuesday prior to a joint hearing of the state Senate and House to examine the factors behind three outbreaks of Legionnaires' at the facility, according to a report from WGEM.

The senator has called for an audit of the facility after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has come under fire in recent weeks for its handling of the three outbreaks.

Fifty-three residents and staff members contracted Legionnaires' — a virulent form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria — in the summer of 2015. Ultimately, 12 residents died. In the summer of 2016, five more residents contracted the illness, which is transmitted through the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water. Earlier this year, three more cases of the illness were detected among veterans at the facility. One of those veterans died.

After his tour of the grounds, Mr. Cullerton said staff at the facility expressed frustration over not being able to find the source of the outbreak. He emphasized that someone needs to be held accountable.

"It needs to go away," Mr. Cullerton said. "We need to figure out what the remedy is."

Mr. Cullerton said he hopes the hearings shed light on the cause of the outbreak and the reasons families of the sickened veterans weren't notified of the circumstances immediately.

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