Acting Director Appointed for Illinois Department of Public Health

Dr. Craig Conover, the state's chief epidemiologist, was appointed Sept. 30 by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn appointed Dr. Craig Conover as acting director of the Illinois Department of Public Health and Jean Ortega-Piron as acting director of the Department of Children and Family Services on Sept. 30. Conover, currently serving as Illinois’ chief epidemiologist and medical director of the office of health protection, replaces Dr. Damon Arnold, who is leaving to create a Master's of Public Health degree program at Chicago State University.

"As he departs to pursue a new opportunity, I want to thank Dr. Arnold for his years of dedicated service to the people of Illinois," Quinn said. "Dr. Conover's experience in a variety of medical fields will ensure that Illinois' public health system continues to protect and improve the health of the people of our great state."

During Arnold's tenure, the department received a $24 million federal grant to implement its "We Choose Health" initiative and regularly received top scores from CDC for public health preparedness. Arnold also worked to secure public-private partnerships for the state's State Health Improvement Plan to improve the health of Illinois residents.

Conover has worked for the department since 2002. He previously was attending physician at the Emergency Department at the University of Vermont and chairman of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Provident Hospital in Chicago. He has a master's degree in public health from the John Hopkins School of Medicine and an M.D. from the University of Rochester.

The department is concerned by infectious diseases, foodborne illnesses, lead poisoning, health disparities, sexually transmitted diseases, tobacco use, and violence and other conditions associated with high-risk behaviors. IDPH also has been charged with handling the state's response to the threat of bioterrorism.

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