Monday, September 17, 2007
sponsored by Illini Bank

Gov. Blagojevich appoints new public health director           Send a link to a friend

[September 17, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- On Friday, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich appointed Dr. Damon Arnold as the new director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The governor accepted the resignation of Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, the state's public health director since 2003. Whitaker is leaving to pursue a position in the private sector.

"I greatly appreciate Dr. Whitaker's service at the Department of Public Health over the past 4 1/2 years," Blagojevich said. "He was instrumental in modernizing and making IDPH more efficient while helping raise health awareness. Dr. Whitaker created the motto for the department, ‘Improving public health, one community at a time,' and took that message to heart, visiting 76 out of the state's 95 local health departments -- more than any other previous director. Dr. Arnold is in a strong position to continue moving Illinois forward as a leader in terms of expanding access to health care and finding effective ways to promote good health."

Under Whitaker's leadership during Blagojevich's first and second term, the Department of Public Health became one of the leading public health agencies in the nation for implementing initiatives to increase public health and raising health awareness. Whitaker has helped the department revamp and expand countless programs and initiatives, including emergency preparedness (the department received the nation's highest rating for its Strategic National Stockpile Plan); HIV/AIDS assistance programs; men's and women's health programs; initiatives targeting health risks among minorities; and decreasing health disparities in the state by working with community-based and faith-based organizations in rural, low-income and minority communities. Whitaker was instrumental in the successful expansion of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and shepherding the department through two statewide emergency preparedness drills, TOPOFF 2 and FLUEX 2006 -- more than any other state in the country.

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"I want to thank Governor Blagojevich for the opportunity to have served the people of Illinois. Being the director of this agency with a governor focused on health care allowed me and our team to accomplish so much for the citizens of Illinois. I appreciate being given the chance to have played a role in shaping IDPH's future," Whitaker said.

Effective Oct. 1, Dr. Arnold will take over as the new department director. Previously, Arnold served as the medical director of bioterrorism and preparedness for the Chicago Department of Public Health, medical director of the occupational medicine program at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, medical director for LTV Steel Company at Corporate Health Dimensions, and medical director of occupational health services and staff physician at Saint Francis Hospital and Health Centers. He recently completed a second tour of duty to Iraq, where he treated soldiers wounded by battle.

In his 20 years of military and medical service, Arnold has provided medical care and humanitarian relief to our servicemen and women worldwide. He has repeatedly gone above and beyond the call of duty to help others. He lives with his wife in Chicago.

The appointment requires Senate confirmation.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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