Illinois Gov. scouting buildings to replace Veterans' Home plagued by Legionnaires' outbreaks

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) wants to buy a new nursing home and expand the state's existing  campus for veterans in Quincy.

The governor announced his proposal for two new facilities Thursday, saying they would help prevent further outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease at the Veterans' Home, the scene of 13 Legionnaires-related deaths since 2015.

“We can't let any more risk occur here,” said Rauner, who lived at the facility for a week in January in a show of support for it. “These Legionella bacteria, they're tough to eradicate, but we will never give up.”

The first part of Rauner's solution is a vacant nursing home blocks from the existing facility that would be renovated and used to house some residents in case of a future outbreak, according to the State Journal-Register. Rauner also proposed temporary, modular living spaces with their own water sources to help accommodate other Quincy residents.

But the governor said there are no current plans to move residents, many of whom are frail and wouldn't handle the stress well.

“We have to avoid knee-jerk reactions that will cause more harm than good,” he said.

Rauner also revealed a plan last week to build new permanent facility on the campus that could serve veterans over the next 50 years.

The State-Journal Register quoted Mike Hoffman, a senior advisor to the governor, as saying the facility would specialize in modern issues veterans face, including injuries from improvised explosive devices and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is months from even entering the design phase.

Rauner is seeking a grant from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs to cover up to 65% of the costs of a new facility, the newspaper reported.