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Report suggests Gov. Mills failed to disclose info on CDC pick’s role in fatal outbreak in Illinois

Senator Geoff Gratwick (D – Bangor) told the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that he was unaware of Dr. Nirav Shah’s (center) role in a deadly outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease at a Veterans Home in Illinois. The report suggests that Governor Janet Mills (right) administration did not fully disclose key details on Dr. Shah’s track record.

AUGUSTA – In a story first covered in Maine here at the Maine Examiner, the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting is now reporting that Governor Janet Mills’ hiring of Dr. Nirav Shah as the Director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control is meeting skepticism from lawmakers of both parties.

Based on several quotes and facts in the article, the report suggests that the Mills administration failed to provide critical information to at least two key members of the legislative committee that oversees Maine CDC when briefing them on the hiring of Dr. Shah.

The report, published late Friday at pinetreewatch.org , quotes State Representative Beth O’Connor, a member of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee, saying that she was not happy that Shah had been hired given his track record in Illinois.

That track record includes an audit from the Illinois State Auditor that knocked Shah for his response to an outbreak of Legionnaires Disease at Quincy Veterans Home that killed 13 and sickened more than 200.

Read More: Mills’ choice to lead Maine CDC ‘sat on his hands’ as people died, said two U.S. Senators

O’Connor also said the Mills administration gave lawmakers a “glowing report” of Shah and that “she wouldn’t hire him” after learning more.

Other stories published in Illinois based on emails acquired through freedom of information requests have shown that Shah at times seemed more concerned with winning positive media over the outbreak than the outbreak itself.

At the end of the report from MCPIR, Senator Geoff Gratwick, a doctor and Democrat from Bangor, is quoted saying, “People learn by mistakes, but I don’t want them to learn on Maine citizens.”

The report says that the quote from Senator Gratwick, who chairs the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services, came after he read about Shah’s handling of the outbreak in Illinois for the first time.

The report also said that on Wednesday, June 5th, Sen. Gratwick told Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting that he was unaware of Shah’s role in the Legionnaires’ crisis in Illinois.

Those revelations suggest that the Mills administration failed to disclose important details of Dr. Shah’s record even to Gratwick, who chairs the committee that oversees Maine CDC, and is an ally of Mills.

When Shah’s hiring was announced by the Mills administration, Rep. Patty Hymanson, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee with Sen. Gratwick, praised Shah. It is unclear if Hymanson knew any more about his time in Illinois than Gratwick did.

After a delay reportedly unrelated to the revelations about his work in Illinois, Dr. Shah is slated to start work as the director of Maine CDC soon.

The families of a dozen of the individuals who died in the outbreak in Illinois are suing the state of Illinois for wrongful deaths.

Both U.S. Senators from Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, repeatedly called for Shah’s resignation for his role in the Illinois outbreak.

Read the full report from Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting by clicking here.

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