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Gov. J.B. Pritzker names new heads for agencies beleaguered by veterans' deaths from Legionnaires' disease in Quincy
Chicago Tribune - 1/31/2019
Jan. 31--Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday appointed new heads for two state agencies that came under scrutiny during the previous administration for their handling of a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a veterans home in downstate Quincy.
Pritzker appointed the medical director of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, to head the Illinois Department of Public Health. And Army veteran Jaime Martinez was picked to lead the state Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Under previous Gov. Bruce Rauner, both agencies faced widespread criticism and legislative hearings after WBEZ-FM 91.5 reported the administration delayed notifying the public and families of residents at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy of a 2015 outbreak of Legionella bacteria. Since then, 14 people have died and 70 others have been sickened at the facility, which opened in 1886.
Ezike, a board-certified internist and pediatrician, earned her medical degree at the University of California at San Diego. In her role as head of the Public Health Department, Ezike would oversee regulation of facets of the state's medical marijuana program at a time when Pritzker is pushing for legalization of recreational pot.
Martinez is executive director of Illinois Joining Forces, a nonprofit organization serving veterans. He has a law degree from George Mason University and previously severed as general counsel to the state Veterans' Affairs Department.
Pritzker also appointed five people to serve on the University of Illinois board of trustees: Kareem Dale, senior counsel at Discover Financial Services; Donald Edwards, founder and CEO of private equity firm Flexpoint Ford; Ricardo Estrada, CEO of Metropolitan Family Services; Patricia Brown Holmes, a managing partner at law firm Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila; and former Democratic state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson of Urbana.
All the appointments require approval from the state Senate.
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