appoints new public health director
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[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,"
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
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]