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Tom Cullerton applauds move to prevent Legionella outbreaks

tc 031919VILLA PARK— Illinois may soon have new regulations and rules in place to prevent water-borne illnesses like Legionnaires’ disease.

A General Assembly rulemaking committee has given the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency the authority to more than double the minimum amount of chlorine required in public water supplies. This move is proposed to prevent the outbreak of heinous water-borne diseases such as Legionnaires’.   

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park), a fierce advocate for the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy throughout the facilities legionnaire’s crisis, called the policy a major step toward preventing similar tragedies from occurring in Illinois homes.

“The Legionella crisis at the Quincy veterans’ home has emphasized the need for the state to be proactive in policies to ensure Illinois’ water supply is safe,” Cullerton said. “This step will empower the IEPA to protect homes and facilities throughout Illinois from these preventable illnesses. It is our duty to learn from the deaths of these brave heroes to ensure this never happens again, anywhere in our great state.”

Since 2015, 13 residents of the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy have died of complications caused by Legionnaires’ disease. Cullerton served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman and has been a staunch advocate for Illinois’ veterans, especially those at the Quincy home greatly affected by continuous cases of Legionnaires’ disease during the last governor’s watch.

During a rulemaking hearing, the Illinois Department of Public Health acknowledged that was the case in the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the veterans home in Quincy, but it also argued that “the minimal residual disinfectant found in the public water supply was found to be drastically ineffective.”

“Our nation’s heroes have survived foreign conflict zones – the greatest danger they face should not be living in a state facility,” Cullerton said. “I’m glad to see the committee work in a bipartisan manner to not only take care of our veterans but all residents of Illinois.”

The new rule will raise the minimum required level of chlorine in water to 0.5 milligrams per liter of “free” chlorine, or 1.0 milligrams per liter of “combined” chlorine. Federal regulations only stipulate there be “detectable” levels of chlorine and do not enforce a specific minimum level.

According to the CDC, people at increased risk of Legionnaire’s disease are 50 years of age or older or have certain risk factors, such as being a current or former smoker, having a chronic disease, or having a weakened immune system.

“People across Illinois should be able to rely on a safe and reliable water supply,” Cullerton said. “If we all work together we can institute a real solution to eliminate the risk of harmful diseases such as Legionnaires’ indefinitely.”

Part of Collins’ and Flowers’ plan to fight maternal, infant mortality becomes law

collins maternal 051719SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Collins and State Rep. Mary Flowers issued the following statements today as Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law part of the legislative package aimed at reducing rising infant and maternal mortality rates:

“We brought this plan forward to fight against an environment where women’s concerns over their bodies and their children’s well-being are diminished or ignored, often in ways that can be deadly for women of color in particular,” Collins said. “When we see studies that show a college-educated black woman in a high-paying career is more likely to die as a consequence of childbirth than a white woman without a high school diploma, we have to act.”

Morrison concerned with high-paid CEO while workers with disabilities lose employment

morrison 032719SPRINGFIELD – News that Land of Lincoln Goodwill in Springfield is laying off dozens of workers with disabilities without a valid explanation is drawing concern from State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield).

“It is disheartening that Goodwill would use false excuses to terminate the employment of reliable, hardworking staff with disabilities in Illinois,” Morrison said.

Morrison – who is chair of the Senate Human Services Committee and founder of the Special Needs Caucus – passed a series of measures this year aimed at increasing state employment of individuals with disabilities, all aimed at breaking down the barriers to employment.

New Holmes law overhauls child abuse reporting from psychiatric hospitals

holmes 053119SPRINGFIELD – After an October report from ProPublica revealed allegations of abuse and neglect of children at the Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, concerns were heightened about coordination between the Department of Children and Family Services and other state agencies.

State Senator Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) House Bill 831 requires better reporting to rectify those cases by requiring DCFS to notify the Director of Public Health and the Director of Healthcare and Family Services when they occur. Gov. JB Pritzker signed the bill into law today.

“After DCFS found neglect and sexual abuse by staff, as well as failure to provide a safe environment and monitor these children’s care and medication at this psychiatric hospital, it became obvious more oversight is needed to prevent this from happening,” Holmes said. “Federal and state investigations have revealed these tragedies and we must do everything we can to stop it.”

The Department of Public Health inspects and licenses hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals where children in need of that care reside. DPH has the authority to revoke, deny or suspend a hospital’s license. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services is responsible for providing healthcare coverage for adults and children who qualify for Medicaid, which covers many children in these hospitals’ care.

“These agencies must be engaged to help investigate and correct the conditions that lead to cases of abuse and neglect,” Holmes said. “Whenever DCFS receive a report by any means, at any facility, they should notify the directors of DPH and HFS so they can take action. The numerous charges against DCFS in safely caring for children under their supervision are disturbing and this is just one of many legislative actions underway to reform child welfare.”

Among the cases investigated were children who had been cleared for discharge weeks or months before, but they were languishing in the hospitals because DCFS had failed to find other places for them.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

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Thursday, 18 July 2019
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