Veterans’ home officials and local veterans are sharing their reactions after master plans were unveiled at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy on Tuesday.
“It was a year ago this week that we were sitting here and there were conversations being had about whether or not the fate of the veterans’ home would remain open,” said Quincy Veterans’ Home Administrator Troy Culbertson.
Culbertson is referring to the Legionnaires’ Disease that wreaked havoc on the veterans’ home campus, killing 14 people.
Now, a new tune, one that reflects change and safety for the veterans who call this place home.
“Here we are today, one year later and the direction of this ship has turned around,” said Culbertson.
Tuesday’s open house was to show residents of the vets’ home and members of the public how the master plan is shaping up.
Culbertson says one of the big changes made is the bed count.
“Our licensed capacity is 386, currently,” said Culbertson. The plan is proposing anywhere from 390 to 428.”
Other plans include more green space, an outdoor amphitheater, new buildings and additional services like behavioral health care.
Veteran John Gebhardt doesn’t live at the home but has friends who do.
“It’s important the veterans are taken care of,” said Gebhardt.
Gebhardt says he’s attended all three of the open houses and is impressed with how things are coming along but still has some concerns.
“To get from the newest building to like physical therapy or to the main complex, there’s going to be a road going past there,” said Gebhardt. “I really think they need to think about that because we’re talking about 70 and 80 plus people in wheelchairs.”
Officials hope to have the plan finalized by the end of the year.
Veterans will start to move over to the former Sycamore Healthcare building, now called Hammond Hall, starting January 1.
From start to finish, the new veterans’ home will take a least 10 years to complete.