5/19/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Employee Bright Spot and Press Conference Recap

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Good Afternoon, IDHS Staff:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults, or approximately 47 million adults, live with a mental illness.

Providing and caring for a loved one with mental illness can be emotionally difficult. Fortunately, there are health care professionals committed to assessing, diagnosing, and treating people struggling with mental health issues.

Here at IDHS, these professionals work across our seven hospitals to support the development of robust and sustainable behavioral health. Our health care workers provide both core and preventative care to ensure that patients receive the high-quality treatment that they need.

I am excited to talk about two of these health professionals in today's Bright Spot: Dotty Blank and Carolyn Schmidt. Dotty and Carolyn work at the Alton Mental Health Center and provide invaluable assistance in serving 125 patients.

Today's Bright Spot: Dotty Blank, PhD and Carolyn Schmidt, RN (Alton Mental Health Center)

Dotty is Alton's education nurse and infection control RN. In this role, Dotty teaches all new staff on infection control policies, establishes on-the-job training for new employees, and closely monitors their progress to ensure that they are well-qualified before moving forward. Given her background and expertise, she has been the "go-to" person for infection control during the COVID-19 pandemic. A true leader, Dotty has worked long hours performing her regular duties, in addition to manning the COVID-19 screening table, being trained, and performing COVID-19 testing.

Carolyn is an RN at Alton MHC who works second shift and is an active Illinois Nurse Association member. She was helpful with both the staff and patients when her unit was the first to go on quarantine. She is always willing to cover shifts to ensure facility coverage, and takes the safety of the patients and staff as a personal responsibility.

Fun Facts

  • Dotty loves to camp and is a dart champion
  • Dotty is a member of AFSCME and is a member of the Staff Incentive Committee
  • Carolyn loves fashion
  • Carolyn loves to decorate her home, especially during the holidays

Dotty and Carolyn, thank you for continuing to lead at a time where our residents are depending on us the most.

Below, please also see the updates from the Governor's press conference yesterday.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor's 05-18-2020 Press Conference

  • Contact Tracing Pilot Program: Governor JB Pritzker announced the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative, a locally-driven approach to scale up contact tracing in Illinois. The State is immediately engaging two local health departments to pilot this initiative: St. Clair County in the Metro East region and Lake County in the Northeast region. Additionally, IDPH sent assessments to the state's 97 local health departments with half already sending back their initial assessments regarding their ability to expand their contact tracing capabilities.
  • Contract Tracing Engagement: The Governor noted that only about 29% of known Illinois cases are engaged in a tracing process. That's a number that the State wants to push as high as possible, ideally to over 60%.
  • Hospitalization Numbers: As of yesterday, there were 4,120 people hospitalized in Illinois for COVID-19. Of those, 1,096 were in the ICU, with 636 on ventilators.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 2,294 new cases reported in Illinois and 59 additional deaths.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS