Durbin Delivers Tribute To Illinois Director Of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin thanked Dr. Ezike for her leadership in Illinois during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic as she steps down from the position

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today took to the Senate floor to express his gratitude to Dr. Ngozi Ezike as she steps down from her position as Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health today after leading Illinois through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Durbin highlighted Dr. Ezike’s positive impact on public health and applauded her approach to reassuring and educating Illinoisans about coronavirus.


Dr. Ezike is a Harvard-trained, board-certified internist and pediatrician who has worked at all levels of public health. She has served as Director of the Illinois Department of Health for three years.


“Appearing with Governor JB Pritzker at his daily briefings, she [Dr. Ezike] was the public face of Illinois’ effort to contain the virus and save lives. What a reassuring presence. She dispensed a daily dose of compassion and empathy along with the facts and statistics, the realities and pleas for mask-wearing and hand-washing. She delivered her message calmly and clearly and then, without missing a beat, delivered it again in Spanish. Her sincerity was obvious,” Durbin said.


Durbin also praised Dr. Ezike’s work on addressing the maternal mortality crisis in the U.S. and the racial disparities that put women of color at a higher risk of pregnancy-related deaths.


“In addition to shepherding our state through the worst of the COVID crisis, I am grateful for her tremendous leadership on one other area too - preventing pregnancy-related death. This is a preventable tragedy that affects women and babies of color especially hard… Last April, Illinois received a waiver from Medicaid allowing us to become the first state in the nation to expand health care coverage for new moms on Medicaid from 60 days after pregnancy to a full year – a change that I am certain will save lives. In the American Rescue Plan, Congress expanded that option to all states for five years. We continue to fight to make this change permanent for all new moms on Medicaid,” Durbin said.


“I thank Dr. Ezike...for her service, courage, and leadership, and for her caring heart at a time when Illinois and America needed her so much,” Durbin concluded.


Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.