A report on the deadly LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 outbreak last year has uncovered widespread mismanagement at Illinois facilities.
“Inefficient, Reactive, and Chaotic”
The inspector general of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) issued the report on April 16, 2021. The report found that little had been done to devise protocols for preventing or managing coronavirus infections at state veterans’ homes prior to Nov. 1, when the first four cases at the LaSalle facility were confirmed.
The LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 outbreak quickly spread to infect a total of 60 residents and 43 employees. In all, 36 veterans died at the facility, while confused staff members operated in an environment that was “inefficient, reactive, and chaotic.’
According to the IDHS report, ineffective, alcohol-free hand sanitizer was widely in use at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, with nobody responsible for replacing it. Personal protective equipment was also scarce and infrequently or improperly used, and staff members were permitted to report for duty after simply taking their own temperatures and initialing their own results.
Additionally, the LaSalle Veterans’ Home failed to provide adequate training or information about the outbreak to its employees. In fact, many staff members reported first learning of the outbreak either from their co-workers or from the news.
LaSalle Veterans’ Home “Not Prepared”
This pattern of mismanagement only got worse in the immediate aftermath of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 outbreak. The report uncovered confusion over evacuating a wing to prepare it for quarantine, along with other errors such as placing residents who tested positive for COVID-19 in the same room with uninfected residents, then not monitoring the newly exposed residents afterward.
The inadequate preparation at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home was especially troubling given the lack of infections at the facility from March through October of last year. This effective grace period should have provided sufficient time for management to develop plans, protocols, and training to address the pandemic, particularly in light of COVID-19′s known effects on the elderly in congregate settings. Nevertheless, the IDHS report found that “the management team and staff did not anticipate and were not prepared for an outbreak.”
State Agency Promises Reforms
Following the release of the report, the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs said that the agency is taking steps to improve management, training, and communication at state veterans’ homes, including plans to restructure senior leadership and hire more people. Infection control will also be a priority, with the creation of infection control and quality-of-care committees at each home under the supervision of a newly appointed infection control director.
The LaSalle Veterans’ Home was not the only Illinois facility that was seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the veterans who died in LaSalle, COVID-19 claimed the lives of 15 residents at the Manteno Veterans’ Home and 25 residents at the Quincy Veterans’ Home.
The families of at least five of the veterans who died during the LaSalle Veterans’ Home COVID-19 outbreak are reportedly planning to file suit against the State of Illinois.
Let Our COVID-19 Lawyers Help You
It is an understatement to say that COVID-19 has changed our lives. This highly contagious virus can be found practically anywhere, and the results can be devastating, especially to our most vulnerable populations, like the elderly who reside in veterans’ homes and other nursing facilities.
If you have lost a loved one to COVID-19 because of nursing home negligence, you might be eligible to receive compensation. To learn more about your options, reach out to the nursing home coronavirus attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers LLC.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, GWC is one of the leading Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. No other plaintiff attorneys in the state are more respected – or more feared – by their adversaries, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have the experience, the determination, the resources, and the reputation of success necessary to get you and your family the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our dedicated COVID-19 attorneys. You may call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.