Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Windy City Times: Office of LGBT Health closing?

via Windy City Times, by Sam Worley

Some members of the LGBT community are concerned that the Office of LGBT Health, a pioneering program administered by the Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH) , may be in danger of closing. The directorship of that office has been vacant since the mid-June departure of Simone Koehlinger (pictured), who took a position working on obesity issues for the Cook County Health Department.

"The community is concerned that this position might be eliminated," said Jim Pickett, who works for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

A CDPH spokesman released a statement to Windy City Times that stressed the department's commitment to the office. "The Office of LGBT Health is an important unit within the Chicago Department of Public Health," the statement read. "CDPH will continue to support this important program and will be seeking to fill the position."
Koehlinger, however, said that her worries about the office's future arise from the fact that it is funded by a cash-strapped city government. "Thankfully, we have an administration at the health department that supports this position," she said. "The concern comes in that the position is city-funded."

"I personally have not heard that specific concern voiced at CDPH," Public Health spokesman Tim Hadac e-mailed in response to those concerns. Mayor Richard Daley's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Programs that are not specifically grant-funded, Koehlinger said, are particularly unstable in the current economic climate. In the last few years, the office has not been immune to budget-cutting measures, she said, citing a public relations position that was eliminated, rather than filled, when the person who occupied the position left.

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