State officials visit Lake County to learn about substance abuse programs
Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and state health officials visited Waukegan on Friday to discuss the opioid crisis and learn about Lake County's efforts to battle substance abuse.
The visit included a tour of the Lake County Health Department's substance abuse program in Waukegan.
"I'm very inspired by having done this tour," Sanguinetti said. "They're able to track patients from the minute they come in and find out if they're on opioids. They're with them every step of the way.
"Here in this facility we heard some stories from those who suffered from substance use disorder and how their journey has been. What we have learned about this epidemic is that it knows no neighborhoods, no color, no class. It's an equal opportunity aggressor."
Shayna La Bue of Wauconda, who has struggled with addiction, talked about how important the rehab facility has been in her life.
"This was the only place that I actually picked up the phone and started the turning point that I really needed in my life," she said. "I had only planned to stay for detox, and there just was something here about the people and the counselors that made me want to stay, and I'm so glad I did. I have such a strong solid foundation for my recovery and I'm so honored to be here to give it back."
Sanguinetti was accompanied on the visit by Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, and Dr. Maria Bruni, the acting assistant secretary of programs for the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Sanguinetti and Shah lead an Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force created last month by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Bruni also serves on the task force, which aims to reduce opioid overdose deaths by one-third within three years.
Sanguinetti's visit came one day after President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency.
Sanguinetti also was scheduled to be among the featured guests at a $100-a-plate fundraiser for the Lake County Republican Federation on Friday night in Lake Forest.
• Daily Herald photographer Bob Chwedyk contributed to this report.