tc vets 043021VILLA PARK – Following the release of a report from the Office of the Inspector General on the COVID-19 outbreak at the state-run LaSalle Veterans Home in November 2020, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D- Villa Park) called for hearings to further investigate the issue, discuss the obvious mistakes that occurred and how to move forward.

“It breaks my heart and I can’t imagine what the loved ones of those lost during this outbreak must be feeling,” said Cullerton, chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. “This report will give me, my colleagues and our veterans’ families an opportunity to seek understanding of what occurred plus offer clarity on what can be done to prevent this situation in the future.” 

From late October to December 2020, more than 200 veterans and staff at the LaSalle Veterans Home tested positive for COVID-19, resulting in 36 deaths. When the state learned of the outbreak, the Veterans Affairs Committee held multiple hearings with witnesses from the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to determine what went wrong.

Following the outbreak, IDVA director Linda Chapa LaVia stepped down and was replaced by Terry Prince, a 31-year Navy veteran who was also superintendent of the Ohio Veterans’ Homes, as acting IDVA director. 

“Now that this report is out, we will hold hearings with the Veterans Affairs Committee to discuss these findings,” Cullerton said. “It is incredibly important that legislators have the opportunity to ask questions on this report. I spoke with the Governor this morning plus IDVA Director Prince late last night and was assured their teams would be helpful and responsive during these hearings. We can never bring these veterans back, but we can find answers. We owe it to their families and the veteran community to provide transparency and assurances that we cannot let this happen again.

The full OIG report on the fall 2020 COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home can be found here.