Chicago's former top doc offers message to city's residents after her controversial firing

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Dr. Allison Arwady, who was fired as the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health on Friday, delivered a message to the city’s residents after her dismissal.

Arwady, fired by Mayor Brandon Johnson on Friday, spoke to NBC Chicago’s Mary Ann Ahern about a host of topics, including how her termination was handled, her concerns about the move, and what may come next as she leaves a department she steered through the dark days of the COVID pandemic.

You can watch the full interview in the player above.

During the interview, she gave a message to Chicago residents who tuned into her frequent updates during the pandemic, and who sought guidance from her in unprecedented and often turbulent times.

“I do I want to say thank you to all of those Chicagoans. Throughout COVID, there has been just so much support for the work of the department,” she said. “I don’t care about politics. I care about public health. I care about this city.”

Arwady told Ahern that Johnson made her termination immediately effective, something that she says concerns her as the department looks to move forward without her leadership.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health who spearheaded the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was fired on Friday by Mayor Brandon Johnson, the mayor’s office said.

“I am concerned about my team and I’m concerned a little bit just with the way that this was done, that it will be harder to potentially bring in a real public health professional to want to lead the department,” she said.

Arwady joined CDPH in 2015, and was the commissioner of the department under former Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

She was in charge of spearheading the department’s response to the pandemic, coordinating masking efforts, vaccination drives and testing sites during the worst of the pandemic.

While efforts to curtail COVID-19 came with plenty of opposition, as did efforts in the aftermath of the rollout of the vaccine, Arwady says public buy-in to the work of CDPH will be critical for the city to remain safe in the coming years.

“It is important that across this city, we are supporting this health department,” she said. “We are getting it the funding that it needs, especially coming out of COVID, as a lot of federal grants are ending. It is so important that the person who comes in next in my role understands public health and wants to fight for it in the right ways.”

Arwady says that she doesn’t have concrete plans moving forward, but says that public health remains where her passion is, and that she will continue to fight for adequate funding for initiatives that protect residents in the future.

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