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Pritzker promotes longtime Cook County Health doctor to state role

Friday, February 01, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business
by Stephanie Goldberg

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has named a longtime Cook County Health doctor as director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Internist and pediatrician Dr. Ngozi Ezike will lead the department that works to protect the health and wellness of Illinoisans through disease and injury prevention, the governor’s office said in a statement today.

Having spent more than 15 years at Cook County Health, Ezike currently serves as medical director at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, which provides secure temporary housing for youth awaiting adjudication. She previously served as medical director at Austin Health Center, delivered inpatient care at Stroger Hospital, and has provided primary and preventive care in community and school-based clinics, according to the statement.

As a community-based physician, Ezike "took special interest in obesity, diabetes and breastfeeding—three public health issues she will be able to advocate for on a larger scale in her new role as the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health," Cook County Health CEO Dr. John Jay Shannon said in a statement. "On behalf of Cook County Health and the many patients she has served, we are immensely proud and look forward to working with Dr. Ezike in her new capacity.”

Ezike replaces state Public Health Director Dr. Nirav Shah, who was appointed in January 2015. Shah worked on a number of initiatives, including the recently launched Opioid Alternative Pilot Program, which provides people who have, or could receive, a prescription for opioids with access to medical cannabis; and new rules that lower the blood lead level required to trigger public health interventions.

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