Interagency Report Finds Illinois Veterans’ Homes Lack Proper Infection Control Policies

The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (USDVA) has released a joint report that finds Illinois’ four state-run veterans’ homes lack standardized infection prevention policies even though previous audits recommended their implementation.

The report is a result of the Interagency Infection Prevention Project (IIPP), which was created after the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home, which claimed the lives of 36 residents. The IIPP was created with the purpose to “support an integrated and comprehensive response to COVID-19” at the state’s veterans’ homes.  Members of the IIPP team consisted of an infection control manager from the USDVA, two infection prevention consultants from IDPH, and a medical consultant from IDPH.

In the report, the IIPP found that IDVA and IDPH still hadn’t implemented uniformed policies across its facilities despite the fact that the Illinois Auditor General recommended it in their May 2019 audit of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy Veterans’ Home. 

The IIPP report makes six broad recommendations for improving the response to COVID-19 and other potential viral outbreaks at the four veterans’ homes. Those recommendations are:

Develop and implement system-wide policies, procedures, and practices for infection prevention;
Expand system capacity for infection prevention;
Broaden and deepen the perspective of the infection preventionists, positioning them to be conveners, coordinators, and communicators for Interdisciplinary Team efforts;
Strengthen staff-wide training;
Monitor adherence to policy and procedure to identify and correct gaps in a timely manner. Active, shared staff participation extends the reach of the infection prevention program and fosters staff ownership of key infection prevention processes; and
Engage top management directly with front-line staff through Interdisciplinary Team rounds for infection prevention.

You can read the full report here.

Dale Fowler

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