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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 14, 2007

Governor Blagojevich appoints new director of Public Health

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today appointed Dr. Damon Arnold as the State’s new Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Governor accepted the resignation of Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, the State’s public health director since 2003. Dr. 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 four and a half years.  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 healthcare and finding effective ways to promote good health,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
 
Under Dr. Whitaker’s leadership during Gov. Blagojevich’s first and second term, IDPH became one of the leading public health agencies in the nation for implementing initiatives to increase public health and raising health awareness.  Dr. Whitaker has helped IDPH revamp and expand countless programs and initiatives that include emergency preparedness (IDPH received the nation’s highest rating for its Strategic National Stockpile Plan); decreasing health disparities in the state by working with community based and faith based organizations in rural, low-income and minority communities; HIV/AIDS assistance programs, men’s and women’s health programs, and initiatives targeting health risks among minorities. Dr. Whitaker was instrumental in the successful expansion of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and shepherding IDPH through two statewide emergency preparedness drills – TOPOFF 2 and FLUEX 2006 – more than any other state in the country.
 
“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,” Dr. Whitaker said.
 
Effective October 1, 2007 Dr. Damon Arnold will take over as the new Director of IDPH.  Previously, Dr. Arnold served as the Medical Director of Bioterrorism and Preparedness for the Chicago Department of Public Health, Medical Director of 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 & Health Centers.  Dr. Arnold recently completed a second tour of duty to Iraq, where he treated soldiers wounded by battle. 
 
In his twenty years of military and medical service, Dr. Damon 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.  Dr. Arnold lives with his wife in Chicago.
 
Dr. Arnold’s appointment requires Senate confirmation.


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