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Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti to Speak at the Loretto Hospital to Help Put an End to the Heroin Crisis on Chicago's West Side

West Side Heroin Task Force’s Leader Rep. Ford (8th) to ignite the effort on the 50th Anniversary of King’s assignation

CHICAGO, IL – April 2, 2018 – Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti will join the West Side Heroin Task Force’s (WSHTF) Leader Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th), and The Loretto Hospital’s President and CEO George N. Miller, Jr., for a breakfast meeting on Wednesday, April 4 at 8 a.m. to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the 50th Anniversary of his assassination, and to fight for freedom from the heroin epidemic plaguing the West Side of Chicago. The event will be held at The Loretto Hospital, 645 S. Central Ave. in its 6th floor auditorium, and will include the narrative and collaboration of City of Chicago, State, and local health and human services department heads.

The increasingly easy availability and lower street cost of heroin has led to an increase of heroin abuse and overdose not only in Chicago but in many parts of the country. But for years now, Chicago's West Side, just off what's known as the "heroin highway" — the I-290 Eisenhower Expressway, has been most affected as indicated in “Hidden in Plain Sight: Heroin’s Impact on Chicago’s West Side”, supporting research conducted by Roosevelt University, which examines heroin’s impact on Chicago’s West Side. According to the study, the Chicago West Side continues to lead in higher rates of overdose-related deaths and street violence in the state due to the accessibility of these street drugs.

"The availability of heroin is rising across the country, and the West Side has borne the brunt of the crisis regarding addiction and overdose deaths. Much can be done to treat those suffering from heroin use disorders and to reverse overdose so that they aren't fatal," Ford said.

In addition to leading the WSHTF, Ford co-sponsored The Heroin Crisis Act (House Bill 1), which became law in Sept. 2015, and includes health care coverage of addiction, enforcement of parity regulations, and coverage of the important life-saving drug naloxone under Medicaid.

To bring greater traction to these efforts, Ford is seeking the support of Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, and a host of State, the City of Chicago, and local human services departments. Among invited guests and confirmed speakers include: Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., Director of the Department of Public Health; Beverly “BJ” Walker, Director of the DCFS; James T. Dimas, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Maria Bruni, Ph. D. Asst. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Felicia F.

Norwood, Director of HFS; and other individuals from the City of Chicago, County officials, and local health and social services providers.

A partnership between Rep. Ford, The Loretto Hospital, Roosevelt University, health care organizations, drug policy experts, drug crisis advocates, physicians, including former users, WSHTF was formed to determine the best strategies to reduce the health and criminal justice consequences of heroin use on Chicago’s West Side. The task force’s mission is to ensure that evidence-based care and health-centered services are delivered throughout West Side communities.

“As one of the lead health care organizations in WSHTF, The Loretto Hospital has to be a part of the solution to the heroin crisis on the Greater West Side of Chicago. That’s why we are here. We sit right off of I-290. We will continue to work very closely with Rep. Ford and all the partnering WSHTF organizations to advocate on behalf of the communities we serve,” The Loretto Hospital CEO George N. Miller said.

For more information about this event, please contact Angela K. Waller, Community Relations Manager at The Loretto Hospital, at 773-854-5275 or via e-mail at

About The Loretto Hospital

The Loretto Hospital is an acute care community hospital that serves over 33,000 patients each year from Chicago's Austin and surrounding communities. As a not-for-profit, community-focused health care provider, we offer a unique, patient-centered healthcare delivery system that promotes general wellness and education in the communities we serve. Loretto is the only hospital in the Austin community and is the largest non-government employer in the Austin community. Through our partnerships with physicians, research institutions, area residents and local businesses, we strive daily to be your health care provider of choice. For more information, please visit