House Judiciary Civil Committee will conduct hearing Monday on La Salle veterans home

Committee called for its own investigation last month

Just a day after Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, asked the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to conduct another hearing regarding the COVID-19 outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home in La Salle, the House Judiciary Civil Committee had planned to meet Saturday on the subject.

The hearing, however, was delayed until Monday.

The House Judiciary – Civil Committee will join the Veterans Affairs Committees in both the House and Senate in conducting a hearing on the November outbreak that resulted in 36 deaths among residents, 108 COVID-19 cases among residents and 107 cases among staff.

An investigation was called for by the panel in early December. This is a separate investigation from one being conducted by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Rezin tweeted she hopes it is asked and answered why it took 12 days from the beginning of the outbreak for the Illinois Department of Public Health to go on site. Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Anthony Kolbeck wrote an email Nov. 9 to the IDPH requesting the onsite visit, after more than 100 residents and staff tested positive at that time for COVID-19 in about a nine-day span. The visit discovered a nonalcoholic hand sanitizer was being used at certain stations in the home, as well as issues with personal protective equipment.

Rezin and Senate colleague Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, called Friday for more Veterans Affairs hearings on the recent COVID-19 outbreak at the La Salle facility. Schimpf and Rezin sent a letter to the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sen. Tom Cullerton, to formally request he schedule a hearing during the coming lame-duck session.

In the letter, the two senators said the purpose of this meeting would be to hear testimony from someone at the Illinois Department of Public Health who has decision-making authority and was in that role when the bulk of the outbreak occurred.

Derek Barichello

Derek is a Streator High and University of Illinois graduate. He worked at the Albany-Herald in Albany, Ga., and for Sauk Valley Media in Sterling, before returning to his hometown paper. He's now news editor for both the NewsTribune and The Times.