Public Health

  • Van Pelt demands answers, pledges to end the backlog in murder DNA processing

    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 helps reverse veto of Lyme disease measure

    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.

  • Hunter works to expand influenza research and prevention

    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.”

  • Van Pelt disappointed CPD blew off hearing on gang tracking

    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. Hunter works to expand asthma research and prevention

    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.”

  • Koehler passes measure cutting red tape

    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.

  • Mulroe works to expand care for medically fragile children

    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.”

  • Trotter bill expands HIV testing for at-risk mothers

    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.”

  • Hunter: Department of Public Health must refocus priorities

    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 effect

    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.

  • Mulroe, Senate Public Health committee talk Zika

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  • Continuing care facilities to see licensure streamline

    Mulroe on the floor

    SPRINGFIELD –The mentally and physically disabled individuals who receive care from Misericordia Home are unique as many receive services from the time they are born to their final breath. Thanks to Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) the facility’s licensing will be as unique and streamlined as the service it provides.

    “Misericordia is unique in that it provides exceptional care for its vulnerable residents over lifetimes,” Mulroe said. “It makes sense to me that the state should recognize facilities like it under a new, streamlined licensure process to ensure the patients continue receiving the best care they can without experiencing any delays.”

    Currently, facilities like Misericordia are required by the state to hold multiple licenses for the various services it offers. It can get especially tricky when trying to transfer a patient from one part of the facility to another: An individual may show up on a transfer, but the paperwork placing them there has been held up, causing a delay of care.

    The measure would create a continuum of care license for large-scale facilities like Misericorida, removing the necessity for multiple licenses. The facility currently works under five differently issued licenses.

    The proposal passed both houses and today was signed by the governor.

  • Prohibition against selling lead-contaminated properties signed into law

    Prohibition against selling lead-contaminated properties signed into law

    SPRINGFIELD – Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) took an important step toward preventing Illinoisans from lead contamination by passing a measure, signed Friday, that will prevent the resale and sale of properties with high lead levels.

    Senate Bill 2300 aims to protect children from lead exposure, which research shows negatively impacts children in classrooms and is cited as one of the causes of violence and aggression among youth. Currently, it is legal to sell and resell contaminated properties without warning owners and tenants of the hazardous effects.

    "Illinois cannot afford to wait for lead poisoning to become a statewide epidemic before it takes action," said Trotter, who serves as Assistant Majority Leader in the Senate. “Far too many families are affected with lead toxins in their homes and it is our job to protect them and their children.”

    Majority Caucus Whip and member of the Senate's Public Health Committee Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) also sponsored the legislation.

    "Children in every neighborhood should have access to clean water and lead free homes,” Hunter said. “Unfortunately, low-income and minority communities are disproportionately affected by the side effects of lead poisoning. Families are living in homes where properties still have lead pipes that can cause brain damage for residents.”

    Another notable member supporting the bill in committee was State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago).

    “We must learn our lesson from the tragedy of Flint, Michigan, and work quickly and proactively to guard our youth against this preventable poison,” Collins said. “This law will empower renters and homeowners to protect their families.”

    Furthermore, the bill will prevent the lease, sale, or renewal of properties with high levels of lead in building materials and paint.

  • Senator Mulroe argues for Tobacco 21

    Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) continues to argue in favor of raising the smoking age to 21.


  • Secretary of Public Health of Mexico City, Dr. Armando Ahued, addresses Senate (AUDIO)

    The Honorable Secretary of Public Health of Mexico City, Dr. Armando AhuedMembers of the Illinois Senate today welcomed the Honorable Secretary of Public Health of Mexico City, Dr. Armando Ahued, who delivered a speech on behalf of Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera, the mayor of Mexico City. Dr. Mancera was scheduled to speak before the body, but had to stay in Mexico due to a pollution crisis.

    Dr. Ahued is a surgeon who graduated from the Autonomous Metropolitan University in Mexico. He has held the position of Secretary of Public Health since 2006. Dr. Ahued has promoted the well-being of his constituents based on the principles of education and access to preventive care as effective tools to preserve the public’s health. He is the leading force behind the program Doctor In Your Home, which seeks to provide free care to vulnerable people.

  • Steans, Mulroe hold Senate hearing on public health dangers of budget impasse (AUDIO)

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