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The honorable U.S. Rep. L. Tammy Duckworth will serve as the keynote speaker for the 170th ICO Commencement Ceremony to be held at 11:00 a.m., May 18, at Rockefeller Chapel. Duckworth will receive the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, during the ceremony.
“Not only is Rep. Duckworth a distinguished member of Congress, she is a national hero and an amazing role model for our doctoral candidates,” said ICO President Dr. Arol Augsburger.
Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. She was one of the first women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom when she was deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm when her helicopter was hit by an RPG on Nov. 12, 2004. She was wearing polycarbonate lenses under her visor that protected her eyesight and credits Dr. Michelle Jurkovic, an ICO alum, with saving her vision during the explosion. She was awarded a Purple Heart for her combat injuries.
Following her recovery, Duckworth became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. In Illinois, she worked to create a tax credit for employers who hired veterans, established the first 24/7 crisis hotline for veterans in the nation, and developed innovative programs to improve veterans' access to housing and health care.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. At the VA, Duckworth led an initiative to end homelessness among veterans. She was elected to Congress in 2012.
The board's responsibilities include advising the department director on public health policy, emergencies, and control of health hazards; reviewing department rules and program proposals; and recommending solutions to public health issues.
"It's important for doctors of optometry all over the state to be represented in this very broad-based health board," says Dr. Conrad. "The board is instrumental in developing rules concerning the legislation of health matters and in the implementation of health laws. I look forward to serving the state of Illinois."
Dr. Conrad, who practiced optometry for 21 years, has worked at ICO since 1988 and has served as a vice president since 2003. Her department ensures that ICO's programs fulfill regulatory and ethical expectations and manages outside legal counsel and auditors. Originally from Clarksburg, WV, she now lives in La Grange, Ill. Her work with the 20-member board, which includes a registered nurse, veterinarian, chiropractor, dentist and medical doctors, officially began in March. Her term will run until February 15, 2016.
This letter was published in the Chicago Tribune on April 10.
To the Editor:
"Scrubbing Medicaid" (editorial, March 31) highlights an important and overdue state initiative to purge ineligible people from the Medicaid rolls. But the audit process has had an unintended consequence: Some of our most vulnerable citizens are suddenly without the health care insurance they deserve. That's because they are unaware that they must re-enroll in the program to receive their benefits.
This problem is playing out every day at the Illinois Eye Institute. With more than 100,000 patient visits annually, the IEI is one of the country's largest providers of vision and eye care services. For more than 30 years, we've been a safety net for Chicago-area residents. In addition to medical and surgical eye care, the IEI provides glasses to more than 16,000 Medicaid patients per year. Many of these individuals are children.
But since January, we have received many questions from patients who have been confused with the re-enrollment process or are bypassing necessary health services because they are not aware of the steps they need to take to continue to receive Medicaid services.
I encourage all Medicaid-eligible Illinois residents to follow up with their Medicaid case worker or the Department of Health and Family Services' Illinois Medicaid Redetermination Program Hotline (1-855-694-5458). These agencies can aid low-income individuals and families in making sure they have access to the life-sustaining services that the IEI and many other institutions across the state provide.
Dr. Leonard V. Messner
Illinois Eye Institute
The NAP is a nonprofit professional organization of distinguished practitioners and scholars from 10 health disciplines, including optometry. Only 150 members may be elected to each of the 10 academies. The NAP advises public policy makers on health care issues from the perspective of experts across numerous disciplines.
"Working with all health care providers is necessary to provide the best care for each and every patient," says Dr. Brandys. "The NAP enables providers to share information and educate ourselves on the latest public health and clinical research. Acting as a unified voice in Washington reinforces our commitment to our patients and their families."
Other ICO inductees in recent years include Christine Allison, OD, Arol Augsburger, OD, Sandra Block, OD '81, Janice Jurkus, OD '74 and Dominic Maino, OD '78.