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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Good Afternoon, IDHS Staff:

The threat of COVID-19 has presented unparalleled challenges for hospitals and healthcare providers.

McFarland Mental Health Center is no exception. When the pandemic began, staff quickly implemented changes to their routines in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines. For example, building surfaces typically deemed benign suddenly had to undergo constant disinfection and increased vigilance. Staff must now view their work environment through the lens of "clean" versus "contaminated."

Navigating the unknown is often challenging. However, IDHS staff and leaders across our organization have considerable expertise and experience, acquired through years of service, to guide our organization and facilities in the right direction. Today's Bright Spot, Ayrin Johnson and Travis Miller, are just two of those examples.

Today's Bright Spot: Ayrin Johnson, RN and Travis Miller, Mental Health Technician (McFarland Mental Health Center)

With more than 20 years of experience between them at IDHS, Ayrin and Travis have been leaders at McFarland long before COVID-19 impacted their facility.

With nearly 30 years of experience as a Registered Nurse (RN), Ayrin has embraced the difficulties with incredible professionalism and leadership. She has educated others on precautionary measures and helps to ensure that her tech staff utilizes appropriate isolation interventions.

Travis, as the Chief Steward Officer for AFSCME Local 31, has served as a daily example for others to follow. His proactive use of safety precautions has brought admiration and appreciation from both his peers and those we serve.

Additionally, both have been recognized for the level of dignity and respect they show to their colleagues and patients throughout this crisis. Describing nursing as "an honor" to assist people through their illness to recovery, Aryin has created a safe and friendly space for her "work family." Since beginning his career at McFarland, Travis has been known for staying calm in the midst of a crisis and working as a partner to create solutions to any problem.

Fun Facts:

  • Ayrin enjoys her family, hiking, gardening, and the action/sci-fi genre of cinema
  • Ayrin is originally from the Philippines where she first became a Registered Nurse
  • Travis loves to take vacations and spend time with his wife and son
  • Travis' favorite sport teams are the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Cowboys, and St. Louis Cardinals.

Ayrin and Travis, thank you for bringing calmness to those around you and for the important work you're doing throughout this pandemic.

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

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

  • Testing Per Capita: Governor JB Pritzker announced another major milestone in that Illinois has now overtaken New York to become the number one state in the nation for testing per capita over the past seven days.
  • Restore Illinois: The Governor also noted that all four regions of the state remain on track to meet metrics to move into phase three of Restore Illinois at the end of May.
  • Hospitalization Numbers: IDPH Director Dr. Ezike highlighted that hospitalization numbers are the lowest since the State began reporting the metric, which is a positive sign that the precautions and protocols put in place over the last few months have been and continue to be effective. That said, she relayed that the State will be closely monitoring these numbers as we progress through the reopening phases to ensure that there is not a spike or relapse.
  • Positivity Rate: The statewide 7-day rolling positivity rate is now down to 14%.
  • Hospitalization Numbers: As of yesterday, there were 4,002 people hospitalized in Illinois for COVID-19. Of those, 993 were in the ICU, with 576 of them on ventilators.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 1,545 new cases reported in Illinois and 146 additional deaths.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS