Honoring a Tireless Workhorse

by Brad McMillan
Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University

A longtime state representative will be honored for his legislative contributions on healthcare issues.

After serving 29 years in the Illinois General Assembly with great distinction, State Representative David Leitch has decided to retire. Throughout his outstanding public service career, he has been a tireless workhorse, rather than a show horse, for the people of central Illinois and beyond. In particular, his advocacy for public health issues has been truly impressive and legislatively unmatched. To honor his tremendous accomplishments, Heartland Health Services (formerly Heartland Community Health Clinic) will pay tribute to Rep. Leitch on April 9th during a celebration at The Warehouse on State, a new event center located in Peoria’s Warehouse District.

From its early inception as a volunteer physician clinic, Heartland Health Services owes Rep. Leitch deep gratitude for sponsoring legislation that allowed Good Samaritan doctors to provide free healthcare to the neediest in our community without having to worry about malpractice liability. In the early 1990s, Leitch served on the board of directors for Heartland, which has now grown to serving nearly 18,000 patients in the Peoria region with high-quality healthcare at five clinic sites.

In addition, Rep. Leitch has been a true champion for families and patients seeking better mental healthcare services in our region and state. Not only has he sponsored and passed numerous mental health bills in Springfield, he has hosted weekly meetings in his Peoria office with mental health providers and advocates since 2002, seeking to improve the region’s coordinated services to this vulnerable population. Such devotion clearly reveals his exemplary public service traits. In recognition of Rep. Leitch’s deep passion for improving mental health services, all proceeds from the April event will go to expand Heartland’s mental health services in central Illinois.

Another truly momentous legislative achievement was Rep. Leitch’s sponsorship and passage of the first cord blood legislation in the United States. This bill requires hospitals to ask pregnant women if they wish to donate their cord blood before or after birth, thus providing the richest source of stem cells for critical research to help cure a myriad of diseases. Leitch was also the first male board member of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, sponsored mammography legislation, and brought significant state resources to the Cancer Research Center at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria. His strong commitment to other areas of healthcare—like child welfare, assistance for people with disabilities and hemophilia—has been wonderful… and the list could go on and on.

In 1998, the American Medical Association recognized Rep. David Leitch as the nation’s state legislator of the year for his incredible efforts at improving healthcare. Now it is our turn to recognize our own “Hometown Health Care Hero” for his remarkable, 29-year public service career. Please join us on April 9th to honor and celebrate Rep. David Leitch by registering online at bradley.edu/HHS2016 or calling (309) 677-2374. iBi

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