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Governor Quinn Announces Ebola Task Force

Press Release - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today announced a task force that will help ensure the public health system across Illinois is prepared for the Ebola virus. The task force was established through Executive Order with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and includes members representing health care, local public health, emergency responders, the Illinois State Board of Health, state agencies and others to further strengthen our ability to respond to Ebola. Today's announcement is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to protect the health of the people of Illinois.

"We have learned that the best way to address the Ebola virus is to educate ourselves and know the facts," Governor Quinn said. "I have directed IDPH to assemble a task force of experts that can lead a coordinated effort to ensure everyone in Illinois receives timely and accurate information regarding any potential threat. While we have no confirmed cases, the state will take every safeguard to protect first responders, health care workers and the people of Illinois."

Two travelers - an adult and child who are not related - who arrived at Chicago's O'Hare airport yesterday are under medical evaluation following newly-established safety protocols at Chicago area hospitals and airports. The adult patient has shown no signs or symptoms of Ebola virus disease and is no longer in isolation but will continue to be monitored by hospital officials.

Though improvements have been seen, the child patient - as a result of dehydration and as an extra step of precaution - will be tested for the Ebola virus. The patient maintains a normal temperature and shows no symptoms other than one reported case of vomiting and dehydration. The IDPH laboratory will conduct the preliminary testing while another specimen is sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.

These measures, along with steps the state and city of Chicago are taking, will help ensure the public health department is prepared in case of Ebola affecting anyone in Illinois. Last week IDPH launched an informational hotline where residents can call 1-800-889-3931 with questions or concerns regarding the Ebola virus. IDPH will continue to provide all updated CDC guidance through SIREN (State of Illinois Rapid Electronic Notification) to appropriate audiences (infection control professionals, infectious disease physicians, laboratories, local health departments, health care providers, health care facilities, EMS systems).

The advisory task force will help ensure a coordinated effort to communicate with the public and in reporting any situation that involves testing for Ebola. The task force will facilitate communication and information sharing, assist in designating treatment centers and assess our readiness and response as needed.

IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck and Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas will co-chair the task force whose members include:

Trish Anen
Vice President, Clinical Services, MCHC

Bechara Choucair, M.D.
Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health

Beth Fiorini
President, Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators (IAPHA)

John Flaherty, M.D.
Professor in Medicine-Infectious Diseases, Northwestern University

Kiran Joshi, M.D., MPH
Senior Medical Officer, Cook County Department of Public Health

Richard M. Novak, M.D.
Division Chief, Infectious Diseases, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System

Javette C. Orgain, M.D., MPH
Chair, State Board of Health (SBOH)

Pat Schou, FACHE
Executive Director, Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network (ICAHN)

Susan Y. Swart, MS, RN, CAE
Executive Director, ANA-Illinois & Illinois Nurses Foundation

Alexander Tomich, DNP, RN, CIC
Director, Infection Prevention and Control, Rush University Medical Center

Michael Wahl, M.D.
Director/Medical Director, Illinois Poison Center/MCHC

Stephen Weber, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer, Infectious Disease, The University of Chicago Medicine

Maryjane A. Wurth
President & Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Hospital Association

"Protecting the public from illness and disease is a core public health function and we work continuously with our partners to be prepared to handle any threat to the public," IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. "By establishing this task force we can bring key partners to the table to provide input and help us to ensure residents and hospitals across the state are informed and prepared to address Ebola."

The state is prepared to search for possible cases, implement infection control measures, support medical facilities, perform contact tracing and conduct laboratory testing. IDPH will continue to work with the CDC, local health departments, hospitals and medical facilities.

Preparedness steps IDPH has taken to prepare for a suspect or confirmed Ebola case in Illinois:

  • Provided guidance to medical providers on identifying, evaluating and testing patients.
  • Tested established public health systems to ensure contact tracing is readily available.
  • Created with information for IDPH health care partners.
  • Established an Ebola informational hotline: 1-800-889-3931.
  • Completed a CDC online assessment of our emergency preparedness and response activities related to Ebola.
  • Convened conference calls with health departments and hospitals across Illinois.

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