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  • Trotter hosts health fair for students, families, seniors

    2016 Trotter back to school eventCHICAGO – Students, families and residents can receive free school supplies, health screenings and food at State Senator Donne Trotter’s Back 2 School Health & Wellness Festival on July 30 at South Central Community Services, 1021 E 83rd St.

    The annual event will include free health screenings for blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, cholesterol and mammogram referrals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for local residents.

    “This is an opportunity for parents to prepare students for school without breaking the bank,” said Sen. Trotter (D-Chicago). “Affording expensive school supplies and immunizations can cause a financial strain for families. Residents can come out to receive free services while having fun.”

    Walgreens, Walmart, Target, The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Lakeside Community Committee and more sponsors will have tables at the event. Trotter is joining State Representatives Marcus Evans, Elgie Sims and Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore to make this event possible.

    Residents must bring current shot records to receive immunizations. Information for dental, vision and senior services will also be available.

    Event details:

    What:              2016 Back 2 School Health & Wellness Festival

    Where:            South Central Community Services, Inc., 1021 E. 83rd St., Chicago

    When:             Saturday, July 30

    Time:             10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for health screenings

                          11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for festival

  • Stadelman proposal to create 24-Hour Nurse Hotline Task Force passes Senate

    stadelman domviolSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a resolution Monday to create a task force to study creating a 24-hour nurse hotline, to give sick Illinoisans a second option to consider instead of immediately heading to the doctor.

    The resolution was sponsored by State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) and passed unopposed with a vote of 51-0.

    Stadelman was inspired to sponsor the legislation by the state of New Mexico, which created a 24-hour nurse hotline in 2006. As of 2015, nearly 1.5 million residents, or nearly 75 percent of state residents that are of legal age have called the hotline with health questions. Before the hotline was implemented, many of these callers were forced to go to the emergency room for minor medical treatment.

    The nearly 15,000 calls the hotline receives every month takes a tremendous toll off of emergency rooms, and saves the state of New Mexico about $41 per call. Over time, these savings have added up – to the tune of about $68 million.

    “Creating a 24-hour nurse hotline could be an innovative solution to keeping patients out of emergency rooms and cutting down the state’s medical costs,” Stadelman said. “In this difficult budgetary environment, we need to look at all of the options available to save taxpayers’ money.”

    Stadelman’s resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 44, will now head to the Illinois House.

  • Women's heart health is why we "Go Red"

    gored caucuspostMembers of the Illinois General Assembly showed their support of the American Heart Association’s "Go Red for Women" campaign in the Capitol today. Go Red for Women encourages women to know their risks and take action to protect their health.

    Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 American women each year. The American Heart Association created Go Red for Women to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

    An estimated 43 million women in the United States suffer from heart disease each year, and cardiovascular disease kills one American woman every minute. While 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease, only 20 percent identify it as their greatest health threat.

  • Cunningham sends letter opposing fitness center closure

    cunningham fitness ctrCHICAGO— Senator Cunningham recently sent a letter to an official at Palos Community Hospital urging the hospital to reconsider their current plans to close Palos Health and Fitness Center and attempt to protect the facility and the services it provides.

    Members of the fitness center were recently notified that the facility would shut down May 1. The facility which is run by Palos Community Hospital was set for demolition to make space for a new office building.

    The facility offers many opportunities for residents to continue on a path to recovery from an illness or injury. It also allows many to be able to continue on a path to living a healthy lifestyle by offering many services including medical programs and nutrition training.

    Senator Bill Cunningham recently opposed the proposal to close the community health and fitness center over an approval to build a new office building instead.

    “This facility provides unique services that many in the community utilize to leading a healthy lifestyle,” said Senator Cunningham. “I respectfully ask that Palos Community Hospital reconsider their decision or find a way to continue to provide this excellent service to their community.”

    Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago.

  • Sen. Hunter: South Side trauma center a critical victory

    trauma ctrCHICAGO – South Side Chicagoans may soon access timely trauma care thanks to joint efforts between community leaders and lawmakers encouraging the medical community to address years of protest.

    "This is a big win for the South Side. Years of protest and state hearings have helped this come into fruition," said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), who spearheaded a first-of-its-kind state hearing on the lack of trauma centers in poorer neighborhoods.

  • Delgado partners with local vendors, community organizations for back to school fair (VIDEO)

    CHICAGO-In order to help students get prepared for the school year, State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago) joined with local businesses to host a back to school health and education fair on Saturday, August 29. The event, hosted at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in Hermosa, offered free school supplies, backpacks, flu shots, child identification cards, a dance fitness class and a wide variety of other services.

    “I’m so glad I was able to give back to this community that has already given me so much,” Delgado said. “The families and children that joined us today are my neighbors and friends. The generosity that all of these vendors has shown for all of them is truly inspiring.”

    "The 1st all kids back to school health and education fair was an initiative started by a concerned neighbor. Hair stylist and long-time Hermosa resident Sammy Soto came to Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center and Senator Delgado with a concrete plan to make this event a reality. It was very humbling to see the community coming together under the leadership of Senator Delgado, who immediately made this event a priority,” said Omar Torres-Kortright, executive director of Segundo Ruiz.

    “His office went to work and secured sponsors and partners that provided free book bags, school supplies and medical services ranging from flu shots to dental, hearing and vision screenings. Sammy's Hair studio provided 100 free haircuts and Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center was happy to provide its 4500 sq ft facility, staff, volunteers and a dance and fitness class to complement the many resources already available. The event was a complete success and a clear example of what can be accomplished when public officials partner with local residents and arts organizations for the good of all children," Omar Torres-Kortright said.

  • Haine's Burn Victims Relief Act signed into law

    haine alton godfrey rdSPRINGFIELD – On Monday, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a measure offering relief to fatally injured burn victims by cutting the red tape to qualify for disability benefits.

    The act, also called the George Bailey Memorial Program, provides that burn victims who doctors expect to live for less than 18 months will immediately receive the five months’ pay they would have received from Social Security had there not been a mandatory five-month waiting period.

    “When people suffer traumatic and fatal injuries they should not be denied the funds they would have received under better circumstances. This measure offers relief to individuals and their families in a time of hardship,” said Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton).

    The measure was originally filed in the House by State Representative Jay Hoffman (D-Belleville).  

    “George Bailey’s family has worked very hard to see this law through,” said Hoffman. “The story of the late George Bailey is tragic, and I want to ensure that families do not have to go through the same painstaking process of waiting months for reimbursements. When someone suffers traumatic burn injuries, they should not have to wait to receive help with the high costs of medical care.”

    Currently under the Social Security Act there is a mandatory five-month waiting period applied to Social Security Disability Income claims. A disabled person may only receive payments beginning on the sixth month after their injury. This law removes that waiting period for severely injured burn victims.

    Janie Bailey, cousin of the late George Bailey said, “We are so excited that this legislation has passed. This bill will help so many people. Thank you to everyone that made this bill a reality and in the name of George Bailey.”

    The measure, HB 4006, was signed into law today by Governor Rauner and will go into effect January 1.

  • Tom Cullerton pushes for solution to heroin epidemic

    heroinVILLA PARK - DuPage County’s Narcan program has trained more than 2,200 police officers to administer naloxone, saving over 66 individuals from overdosing on heroin.

    As the growing heroin epidemic spreads throughout the state and nation, we are still waiting for the governor to sign State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) initiative, House Bill 1, to spread the success with battling the drug in DuPage County to communities across Illinois.

    “We have the tools to save lives,” Cullerton said. “Every day, the governor waits, we are risking the chance another young person becomes addicted to heroin or worse yet, overdoses because they cannot afford treatment.”

    House Bill 1 is a comprehensive package designed to address heroin and opioid abuse and addiction in Illinois. The legislation addresses heroin abuse on a variety of different levels. Three major points of the initiative include the following:

    The legislation, which is modeled off of DuPage County’s efforts, creates a program for state and local police officers, fire protection personnel, firefighters and school nurses, to be trained in administering Narcan.

    Narcan reverses the effects of an overdose for heroin, cocaine, Vicodin, OxyContin and Morphine. The drug can be administered either by injection or nasal spray.

    Secondly, the initiative requires Medicaid to cover costs for addiction treatments and prescriptions. Currently, the second most common reason for Illinoisans to seek treatment is heroin, yet the state has the lowest rate of state-funded treatment compared to other Midwestern states, such as Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

    Expanding the scope of Medicaid to include some of these expenses will make treatment more readily available and bring Illinois up to speed with neighboring states.

    Thirdly, requires the Illinois Department of Human Services and State Board of Education to develop a three-year heroin and opioid drug prevention program to address the heroin stronghold in Illinois. School districts will be given the option to adopt the program and DHS will work with the school districts to reimburse the costs.

    Cullerton asserts the legislation was worked on with legislators from both sides of the aisle because everyone recognizes drug overdoses and addiction can happen to people regardless of their age, socioeconomic background or ethnicity.

    “This measure is a great example of legislators working together in a bipartisan effort to address this problem and work to save lives,” Cullerton said.  “I hope the governor will work with us and move quickly to address this growing epidemic.”

  • Delgado, Children’s Place rejoice over success of facility and students

    delgado childrens gradCHICAGO- After cuts proposed by the governor earlier this year threatened to shut down a majority of its operations The Children’s Place Association, a pre-K education facility, spent Thursday morning celebrating. State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago) was in attendance as the facility and staff held a ceremony for their students’ graduation, as some of them will move up to Kindergarten.

    Children’s Place provides a wide variety of services to over 70 children a day. Most of whom come from low income families affected by debilitating diseases and disabilities including autism, HIV, heart ailments, epilepsy, spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many of the children, this is the only early education facility they can attend due to their illness.

  • 3D mammography to be covered by insurance

    mulroe 3d passedSPRINGFIELD – Thanks to new screening methods such as tomosynthesis, breast cancer occurrences have been steadily decreasing since the early 2000s. A new law sponsored by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) adding the screening method to the list of covered low-dose screenings was signed today by the governor.

    “This is a medically proven screening method that increases detection rates and because of its sensitivity, helps reduce unnecessary call backs during an already stressful time,” Mulroe said. “It is a good practice to keep the medical industry moving forward when the technology is available.”

    Previous technologies only took a single dimension view of breast tissue when screening for cancerous cells. Tomosynthesis, also known as a 3D mammogram, takes a multidimensional view of the breast during the screening. As a result, a 3D mammogram has a higher success rate of detecting cancerous cells that are often difficult to detect, due to either size or dense breast tissue.

    Senate Bill 54 amends the insurance code by adding tomosynthesis to the list of definitions of low-dose mammograms. As a result, the insurance mandate will cover 3D mammograms as well as the traditional 2D mammograms.

    “This law will not only help save lives of at-risk women who may not have known about this technology or may not have been previously covered, but also save them from additional stress and discomfort,” Mulroe said. “It is our duty to protect the health and well-being of people in this state, and if we can save them time, money and emotional hardship then that is a bonus.”

    The law becomes effective July 1, 2016.

  • Mulroe: immunization awareness critical to Illinois

    immuniz monthSPRINGFIELD – August is National Immunization Awareness month and hospitals all over the state are urging patients to become more aware of the benefits of vaccinations. Without vaccinations, preventable diseases such as pertussis or measles can often spread unchecked, causing serious health issues and even death.

    Earlier this year, a measles outbreak at a day care center in Palatine ultimately effected 41 children. Currently, Illinois has a vaccination rate among school children of 97%. A recent outbreak of meningitis has caused a stir in the Chicago area, leading many residents to obtain the vaccination.

  • Tom Cullerton’s PANDAS initiative signed into law

    Tom Cullerton's PANDAS initiative signed into lawSPRINGFIELD - Vital legislation to raise awareness on Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) was signed into law today.

    PANDAS is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome and other tics after a child has had a strep infection. Symptoms range from severe separation anxiety to motor tics that appear similar to seizures and hallucinations. The symptoms are severe enough to prevent children from attending school.

    To raise awareness and educate medical professionals, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed a measure to create an advisory council to make recommendations to the Illinois Department of Public Health on awareness and education among doctors, school-based health centers and mental health providers.

  • Van Pelt proud to support federal appropriations passed by Illinois Senate

    pvp fedfundsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is pleased to have had the opportunity to vote in support of an Illinois General Assembly bill that approved federal appropriations for a variety of state programs, totaling over $7.65 billion.

    Senate Bill 2042 allows the state government to spend federal money on an assortment of programs. Included in the federal funding are dollars for community block grants for municipalities, family and community services including the WIC program, as well as funds to help homeless veterans, continue with breast and cervical cancer screenings, and home-delivered meals for the Department on Aging.

    “With the passage of this legislation, a large portion of our state budget will be funded. Many of these important programs were in danger of closing due to the current budget impasse. I’m proud to have been in Springfield to vote for this legislation and I’m very pleased it has passed the Illinois Senate,” Senator Van Pelt said.

    The legislation comes as the Illinois General Assembly and the governor’s office continue negotiations on a new state budget. The governor vetoed the appropriations legislation sent to him by the General Assembly in May that would have avoided the current stalemate.

    Senate Bill 2042 will now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

    “I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this legislation to help keep these valuable state services continuing and also urge the Governor to sign the bill into law once it gets to his office,” Van Pelt said.

  • Haine legislation to improve organ and tissue transplant process signed into law

    haine organ donSPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Haine (D- Alton) was signed by the governor on Tuesday. The measure will improve the organ and tissue transplant process throughout the Metro East.
     
    House Bill 4120, a bipartisan measure that passed both houses of the legislature without a single no vote, will enable a better process for tissue and organ donors by allowing donations to occur at a state-of-the-art facility in St. Louis.
        
    “I am thrilled to see this legislation gain such great support and to see it signed into law,” said Haine. “Every minute counts when it comes to tissue and organ donations. This legislation allows for a better process so those who need organ and tissue donations are able to receive them quickly, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful recovery and saving lives.”

    The legislation allows Illinois funeral directors or transporters to move bodies across state lines to state-of-the-art facilities in St. Louis.  It also eliminates unnecessary regulations and paperwork in order to expedite the process.
     
    This measure was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner on Tuesday and goes into effect January 1. 

  • Governor signs mental health law inspired by Bartonville family’s tragedy

    koehler mntl hlthSPRINGFIELD – The governor signed a law that would give college students the authority to allow their university to share mental health information with their parents today.

    It was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under previous Illinois law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

    A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

    “If I had a child in college who was considering committing suicide, I would want to know,” said Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “For many students, college is a time of transition when mental illnesses first manifest themselves.”

    The law gives newly enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents or other trusted adults. The university would only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

    “Yes, college students are adults who deserve privacy rights,” Koehler said. “But many are living on their own for the first time and still rely on their parents for advice and support. This law respects student privacy while still allowing parents to be involved. It also could start important conversations about mental illness.”

    The measure, House Bill 3599, was sponsored by state Representative Dave Leitch (R-Peoria) in the Illinois House. It will take effect next year.

  • Collins votes to release federal funds and keep WIC offices open

    collins fedfundAlso funds cancer screenings, LIHEAP, job training, addiction services and more

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on budget legislation the Senate passed today to allow $4.8 billion federal funding to be used for purposes such as energy bill assistance, infant nutrition, cancer screenings, substance abuse treatment, developmental disabilities services and job training:

    As a public servant, I uphold and fight for the democratic values that define this state and nation. Justice and equality demand that the people and their representatives not ignore the needs of those who cannot care for themselves or advocate for themselves.

    Yet in the ongoing state budget impasse, their needs have been ignored in shocking ways – frail senior citizens denied home care services, at-risk youth with nowhere to go after school but the streets, a day care center for children with HIV/AIDS threatened with closure and families whose medically fragile infants must have expensive, specialty formulas told that at the end of this week, they will be on their own.

    I was proud to vote my values today as the Senate, in an encouraging show of bipartisanship, passed legislation that releases federal funding for a wide variety of state programs, including those that serve our most vulnerable populations. I urge my colleagues to continue to push for a budget resolution that recognizes our shared moral responsibility to assist and uplift those in need.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 2042, must now be approved by the House before going to the governor’s desk.

  • Sen. Hunter, Institute for Positive Living, IIT’s health fair a success (VIDEO)

    hunter fairCHICAGO – Over the weekend, several hundred Chicago youth, adults and seniors attended State Senator Mattie Hunter’s 12th Annual Health, Fun and Fitness Fair on the South Side. Free health services and back-to-school supplies were offered.

    Mourning families joined the Hunter family for commemorative balloon releases for violence prevention and breast cancer awareness.

    Hunter released pink balloons with Carolyn Adams’ family, the namesake of the Carolyn Adams Ticket for the Cure, in honor of those who lost loved ones to breast cancer. Gatherers released red balloons alongside the Hunter family while calling out the names of victims of violence.

  • Steans’ federal funding budget passes with bipartisan support in Senate, keeps vital services afloat

    steans fed fundsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) presented a budget measure that won bipartisan support in the Senate today and, if it secures House approval and the governor’s signature, will allow federal dollars blocked by the state’s budget impasse to flow to programs that provide cancer screenings, energy bill assistance, infant nutrition and much more.

    “Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly, as well as the governor’s office, agree these funds need to be released for their intended purposes,” Steans said. “There is no reason to keep parents from accessing specialized formula for their medically fragile babies or to hold up federal disaster relief funds; we can continue negotiating the $7 billion portion of the state budget that is still contested while allowing the critical work funded by federal dollars to go on.”

    Senate Bill 2042, which passed without opposition, would allow $4.8 billion in federal money to be spent on functions such as the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program (WIC), utility bill assistance known as LIHEAP, community mental health, AmeriCorps volunteers working in schools and communities statewide, care for those with developmental disabilities, breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women, a 24-hour crisis hotline for victims of domestic violence and more. With some of the offices that provide nutritional counseling and benefits through WIC set to run out of money and close their doors as soon as the end of this week, releasing federal dollars is pivotal in relieving some of the direst effects of the budget impasse.

    “I’m encouraged that we have reached agreement on another significant portion of the budget,” said Steans, who chairs the Senate Appropriations I Committee. “I’m confident we can overcome our remaining differences on budgetary matters without getting bogged down in non-budgetary issues.”