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New Details Emerge From 2015 Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak at Illinois Veterans Home

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Medical Documents Show “Questionable” Record-Keeping Related to Legionnaires’ Disease Victim’s Care and Family’s Concerns Prior To Death

The family of Dolores French, one of the 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home who died from the horrific Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in 2015, recently spoke out to WBEZ reporter Dave McKinney after “newly obtained health documents related to her case demonstrated a litany of questionable procedural and record-keeping practices at Illinois’ largest state-run veterans’ home….”

French had only been a resident of the Quincy Veterans Home for six weeks when Adams County Coroner James Keller examined her already decomposing body, possibly of two days, on the floor in her room. Although state officials deny the claim, her family was told her body was not in a condition to be embalmed and an open-casket funeral would not be an option.

Veterans Home Staff May Have Disregarded Family Inquiry

Phone records show the day before French’s body was found, her son made a call to the Veterans Home to check-in on his mother (and father) after delayed reports of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the facility. At that time, an employee told him not to worry. But just the next morning, staff found French dead in her room, despite concerns of the facility being in an outbreak epidemic and inquiries for the woman’s well-being from both French’s son and at least one resident. After the woman’s death, notes detailing a room check the day of her son’s phone call were added to an electronic medical log stating the woman was not in her room and it looked tidy.

Steven Levin, co-founder and senior partner of Levin & Perconti, spoke to WBEZ about the disturbing findings, stating, “The conduct of this facility in this case, in my opinion, was reckless …. Based upon what we believe the coroner concluded, it is very likely that this person either died or was extremely sick at the time that the nurse claims she went into her room and didn’t see her there. So where the heck was she?”

One in 10 people will die from acquiring Legionnaires’ disease under normal circumstances, but if the disease is contracted from a health care facility, the odds of death jump to one in 4. Since the incident, the Combined Veterans’ Capital Needs Task Force has been working endlessly to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring again and is now demanding the state of Illinois build a $200+ million state-of-the-art skilled nursing care facility to address safe water supply needs.

You can listen to Levin’s full interview with WBEZ and review “The Quandary Behind A Quincy Legionnaires’ Victim’s Death: ‘Where The Heck Was She?’” story here.

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