Watchdog report says deadly COVID-19 outbreak at LaSalle VA home can be blamed on mismanagement

Chicago News

LASALLE, Ill. — A scathing new report says a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans home can be blamed on mismanagement.

A lack of planning, training and poor communications is detailed in a newly released report by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Thirty-six veterans died during last fall’s Covid outbreak, but the acting director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs taking immediate action.

Terry Prince, a 31-year Navy veteran, was appointed last month to take over at the Illinois VA.

A new independent report is complete from the Illinois Department of Human Services, the State Office of Inspector General and the Armstrong Teasdale Law Firm.

It finds, among other things, root causes of inadequate policies, education and
training as COVID-19 hit the veteran’s home hard last fall.

The report also finding a glaring lack of leadership at the highest levels.

According to the report, former VA Director Linda Chapa LaVia, who resigned in January, “abdicated her responsibilities,” leaving her chief of staff, who is non-medical, to direct important operational decisions.

The lack of leadership resulting in an “inefficient reactive and chaotic” response to fending off the virus, according to the report.

Korean War Veteran, Richard Cieski, was among the 36 veterans who died. Cieski’s family filing a lawsuit alleging negligence on part of the LaSalle facility.

Lawyer Michael Bonamarte says the tragic death could have been avoided had LaSalle taken appropriate precautions.

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