Report Confirms Pritzker Failed to Protect Veterans at LaSalle Veterans’ Home from COVID-19 Outbreak

Report Confirms Pritzker Failed to Protect Veterans at LaSalle Veterans’ Home from COVID-19 Outbreak

The systemic failures at all levels of Governor Pritzker’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs is astounding and is a direct reflection on Pritzker’s inability to lead this state.

April 30, 2021

report from the acting inspector general of the Illinois Department of Human Services has blamed “inadequate leadership and structure” in Governor Pritzker’s administration and outlined systematic mismanagement throughout the top levels of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and the LaSalle Veterans’ Home leadership. The failure of Governor Pritzker and his administration led to 36 deaths at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home.

Outlined in the report is the home’s lack of a comprehensive COVID-19 plan, an effective employee COVID-19 screening process, and poor communication and training. All of these were contributing factors in the massive COVID-19 outbreak that killed a quarter of the home’s residents.

From the report:

“The lack of a comprehensive COVID-19 plan, including the absence of any standard operating procedures in the event of an outbreak within the Home, was a significant contributing factor to the home’s failure to contain the virus. The risks concerning transmission and control of COVID-19 were well known by October 2020; yet, the House lacked any formal preparedness and response plan.”

“The Home’s leadership failed to effectively communicate, train, and educate its employees on the danger of COVID-19 and the precautions required to monitor and control the virus within the Home.”

“The Home’s COVID-19 employee screening process was inadequate throughout the pandemic and outbreak. Prior to the outbreak, employees’ initial screening within the Home was not adequately supervised.”

The factors outlined in the report were all “addressed” early on in the pandemic by Governor Pritzker, who assured the public his state agencies were acting on. On April 4, 2020, Governor Pritzker, along with Director Linda Chapa Lavia, outlined the protocols that the Department of Veterans Affairs was undertaking to ensure the safety of the state’s most vulnerable population at his daily COVID-19 briefing.

Governor Pritzker on April 4, 2020:

…here’s what I can assure you across the board. Early action in all of our agencies helped to shape existing emergency plans, specifically to the needs of our COVID-19 response. They put in strict procedures in all of our state controlled facilities, adding new staff, health checks, and policies.

According to the inspector general’s report, the reports and health protocols that Governor Pritzker assured the public his agencies were doing were never done.

“Governor Pritzker failed, and the result was the tragic deaths of 36 veterans at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home,” said Kayleen Carlson, executive director of Illinois Rising Action. “The systemic failures at all levels of Governor Pritzker’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs is astounding and is a direct reflection on Pritzker’s inability to lead this state. As then-candidate Pritzker said in 2018, ‘This is what happens when a governor refuses to take charge and accept responsibility. This is what failure looks like.’”

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