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  • Sen. Suzy Glowiak HiltonOAKBROOK TERRACE—Illinois Alzheimer’s caregivers and patients will now have an advocate within the Illinois Department of Public Health to oversee the state’s Alzheimer’s efforts, thanks to State Senator Suzy Glowiak Hilton.

    Glowiak Hilton’s measure, Senate Bill 1726, which creates the position of Dementia Coordinator in the Department of Public Health to oversee the implementation of the Illinois Alzheimer's Disease State Plan, was signed into law on Monday.

    “As someone who cared for a husband and mother with Alzheimer’s disease, I know how impossible it can seem,” Glowiak Hilton said. “Under the leadership of a statewide Dementia Coordinator, those living and caring for those with Alzheimer’s will have an advocate to fight for state policies that will improve their level of care.”

  • Care for dementia patients SPRINGFIELD – Families of individuals who reside in facilities that care for dementia patients would have the ability to install video and audio monitoring devices in their loved one’s room under a plan sponsored by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) that passed the Senate this afternoon.

    “No one who is being cared for by medical staff should ever have to worry about being abused or taken advantage of,” Link said. “While we know most care staff treat their patients with dignity and respect, allowing video monitoring equipment will serve as a deterrent to misconduct and offer peace of mind to family members.”

  • Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – The State of Illinois currently does not have a limit on how many patients are assigned to registered nurses at one time, creating an unrealistic workload, but State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is working to change that.

    Castro’s measure would create the Safe Patient Limits Act, setting a cap on how many patients can be assigned to a registered nurse in specified situations. This would allow Rn’s a lighter workload, which would give them more time with their assigned patients.

    “This doesn’t just relieve the workload for RNs,” Castro said. “It’s also safer for the patients and allows the RNs to give them the quality care they deserve.”

  • Sen. Melinda BushState Senators Melinda Bush and John Curran, joined by Willowbrook residents, unveiled a package of legislation on Tuesday that seeks to address the public health crisis caused by Sterigenics and their release of ethylene oxide into surrounding communities. The announcement comes after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) issued a seal order against Sterigenics last week, which forced them to cease operations.

    While praising the ILEPA’s decision as an important first step, it was reiterated that lawmakers now need to ensure the proper policies and protections are in place to safeguard Willowbrook and all Illinois communities from the impact of this public health hazard.

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  • sims 060418CHICAGO—State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago) released the following statement after Gov. JB Pritzker signed an executive order for a full audit of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs’ (IDVA), health, safety and security procedures in response to one of the residents at the Manteno Veterans’ Home testing positive for Legionnaires’ Disease:

    “We have to do all we can to prevent a repeat of what happened in Quincy at the Manteno Veterans’ Home. These men and women have sacrificed so much for the people of this great state and country.

    “For that reason, I commend Gov. Pritzker. His swift action is exactly what we need—a fresh start. The lack of transparency in how the last administration handled the Legionnaires’ outbreak in Quincy was despicable. I join the governor in his commitment to treat this situation with the urgency it demands. I just sent a letter to the director of the Manteno Veterans’ Home this week requesting detailed information on how the case of Legionnaires’ disease is being handled and what protocol is being taken.

    “We have an obligation to protect our heroes as they have protected us, and this means collecting as much information as possible so we can be transparent with them, their families and the public and take all necessary precautions to protect them from any harm, particularly Legionnaires’ disease.”

  • castro 080818SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) commended Gov. JB Pritzker’s decision today to make a commitment to addressing a lingering health care crisis at the state’s veterans’ homes.

    “The Legionnaires’ outbreak was a public health crisis, but the previous administration’s behind the scenes scheming, secrecy and lack of communication with the very families affected made it even worse,” Castro said. “This executive order gives us a fresh start and an opportunity to renew our commitment to providing quality care for veterans. We owe it to them and their families to ensure type of health crisis never occurs again.”

    Pritzker issued an executive order today instructing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to provide a report in the next 120 days examining the strengths and weaknesses of Illinois’ veterans’ homes and determine what efforts can be made to ensure that the brave men and women who served our country receive proper care.

    The order further directs veterans’ homes to develop procedures for communicating with families to ensure that they are no longer left in the dark about the care their loved ones are receiving.

    Senator Castro was named chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee this week and plans to continue working with the new administration to protect veterans.

    “I look forward to collaborating with Gov. Pritzker on this issue and others facing Illinois veterans,” she said. “We need to work together to provide our country’s heroes with the treatment they deserve when their service has concluded.”

  • hunter 041918CHICAGO – Starting Jan. 1, 2019, students and parents will have more access to research and prevention materials regarding influenza.

    State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) championed the measure after a rapid increase in the number of people going to see their doctors or health care providers with flu-related symptoms last year.

    "The flu is a serious and contagious disease that can lead to severe consequences,” Hunter said. “One of the best ways to prevent influenza is to stay informed.”

    Senate Bill 2654 will require the Illinois Department of Public Health to develop informational materials about influenza and flu vaccines for school districts. Additionally, school boards will be required to provide that information to parents when notifying them of other health-related matters.

    “Providing parents with information can help reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed school due to flu,” Hunter said. “I am glad that we now have additional steps in place to protect children and families by providing them the information they need to live healthy lives.”

  • Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

    State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) demanded answers as to why the state crime lab has a backlog of DNA from more than 750 murder cases during a Senate Public Health committee hearing this morning.

    “There are as many as 750 Chicago families waiting for answers about the murder of their loved one,” Van Pelt said. “These families deserve answers. They deserve closure.”

    Representatives from the Illinois State Police Forensic Science Lab testified during the hearing, along with family members of murder victims who have been affected by the backlog.

    “I promise to do whatever it takes to end this backlog and make sure families of murder victims get justice,” Van Pelt said. “I ran for office because I didn’t understand why people in Springfield weren’t addressing the issues we face every day in my community. This is one of those key issues.”

    Van Pelt plans to hold another hearing on the matter in the spring.

  • manar lyme 111518SPRINGFIELD – Illinois physicians will not face discipline for recommendations they make to aggressively treat Lyme disease under a new law supported by State Senator Andy Manar.

    The Illinois Senate on Thursday voted to override the governor’s veto of a bipartisan plan that permits Lyme disease sufferers to receive extended regimens of antibiotics under a physician’s care.

    The plan clears the way for doctors to prescribe more aggressive treatments for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses than are currently accepted under industry standards without facing disciplinary action by the state.

    “Numerous people in my Senate district suffer from the life-altering effects of Lyme, and I believe this plan is a step in the right direction as we learn more about how to successfully treat the disease,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who co-sponsored the measure in the Senate.

    House Bill 4515 creates the Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention Act. It requires state officials to form a Lyme disease prevention and outreach program and establish a 12-member Lyme disease task force.

    The bill passed in the spring with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it in August. This week lawmakers voted to override the governor – 110-0 in the House and 48-0 in the Senate.

    There were 237 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Illinois in 2016, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

  • Sen. Hunter works to expand influenza research and prevention SPRINGFIELD – After an increase in hospital visits during what was reported as an extremely harsh flu season, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) increased efforts to provide students and parents research and prevention materials regarding influenza.

    “There was a very rapid increase in the number of people going to see their doctors or health care providers with flu related symptoms,” said Hunter. “We have to get in front of this issue by providing children and families the information they need to live healthy lives.”

  • vanpelt 042318SPRINGFIELD – Chicago Police Department officials opted last minute not to send a representative to today’s Senate Public Health Committee hearing on CPD’s collection and use of information in the department’s gang databases.

    “I’m very disappointed about CPD’s last-minute decision not to testify at today’s hearing,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago, chair of the Senate Public Health Committee). “There’s no shortage of questions and criticisms on how the CPD collects and uses the information in its gang databases, but CPD officials have continued to claim the databases are valuable tools. Today was their chance to address the critics and make their case for the database and they chose not to show up.”

  • Sen. Mattie HunterSPRINGFIELD – With risk factors increasing and disease rates rising, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) has increased efforts to research asthma, which is one of the most common chronic disorders in children. Senate Bill 1846 will require, the Department of Public health to collect data about asthma rates and risk factors in school children.

    “Asthma is a serious lung disease that can be life-threatening if not properly treated,” said Hunter. “Many children are missing school each day due to severe sicknesses from asthma. The state of Illinois needs to allocate additional resources to research asthma and prevention mechanisms. Though there is not a cure for asthma, my colleagues and I have been working to get in front of the problem.”

  • Food serviceSPRINGFIELD – A redundant food handling certificate required by the state will be no more under legislation passed by the Illinois Senate. House Bill 3684 would eliminate the certificate and $35 fee, helping small business owners and workers.

    Currently, the Illinois Department of Public Health requires workers to complete an approved training program and pass an exam provided by an accredited exam provider. After the person passes the exam and pays for the national certificate, they are required to electronically send that certificate to the state and pay $35 for an Illinois specific certificate.

    State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) sponsored the legislation that would eliminate the $35 fee.   

    “Redundant regulations make it difficult to manage the day-to-day operations of their business instead of focusing on growing,” said Koehler, a former small business owner himself. “If and when we find these types of regulations, we should do everything we can to free those businesses from the burdensome redundancies.”

    The measure passed the Senate without opposition.

  • Sister Catherine Ryan testifies before the Senate Public Health CommitteeSPRINGFIELD – Maryville Children’s Healthcare Center may soon be able to care for additional children under a plan sponsored in the legislature by State Senator John G. Mulroe (D-Chicago).

    House Bill 763 would increase the number of children allowed for treatment under the community-based health care center model.

    “This legislation will enable Maryville Children’s Healthcare Center to care for four more medically fragile children,” Mulroe said. “Maryville is an invaluable resource within the district, and I am happy to sponsor this legislation that will allow them to help even more children and families.”

  • HIV testingSPRINGFIELD – Yesterday, legislation intended to offer additional HIV testing for at risk pregnant woman in their third trimester passed an important Senate committee. House Bill 2800 equips pregnant women with the another opportunity to know their HIV status during the prenatal stage to make informed decisions that will benefit them and in return reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

    This crucial measure adds on to the Perinatal HIV Prevention Act by furthering efforts to provide vital information to pregnant at risk women. State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), answered the call to push for increased HIV testing opportunities among disadvantaged pregnant women to increase awareness:

    “This is a significant piece of legislation that passed out of the Public Health Committee. It is vital that we increase HIV testing for at-risk pregnant woman in their third trimester as opposed to only testing in the first trimester to prevent the spread of disease. Too often we see the need to do more good in improvised communities as far as HIV testing is concerned and we ignore it, but no more. By offering additional prenatal testing, we decrease the chance of transmission to the infant.”

  • State Senator Mattie Hunter SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) criticized the Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday for proposing cuts to programs and services that would disproportionately affect minority communities.

    The Senate Appropriations I Committee heard testimony Wednesday morning from Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, on possible budget cuts to reduce the $5 billion gap in Gov. Rauner’s budget.

  • Legislation protecting tenants from lead poisoning set to take effectCHICAGO – Legislation preventing the leasing of properties with high levels of lead in building materials and paint is set to take effect this January.

    According to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, older buildings built before 1978 have a higher chance of containing lead-based paint.

    Senate Bill 2300 seeks to address this issue by requiring landlords to address lead concerns before entering into any new leases.

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