Another byproduct of the state budget standoff: cutbacks in public health programs, from immunizations to restaurant inspections.
“A crumbling public health system makes us all vulnerable,” says Craig Beintema, administrator of the Stephenson and Carroll Counties' public health district, “whether you live in Chicago or Cairo.”
“Did you know that local health departments inspect restaurants and school cafeterias and hospital food service programs?” asks Kathy Drea of the American Lung Association in Illinois. “They train food service workers to safely handle our food so that we don't get sick.”
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And they respond to and try to prevent outbreaks – including of some diseases we thought we'd licked.
The Legionnaire's disease outbreak in Quincy would have occurred regardless of funding, but, because of the manpower required, the Adams County Health Department is “carrying a time liability that will make it nearly impossible, over the next six-month window, to operate normal services.”
The call from the Illinois Public Health Association and the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators is for lawmakers, when they're in Tuesday, to pass a $17.1 million appropriation that contains grants to the local departments, more than a third of which claim cutbacks.