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Lawmakers Join Aunt Martha's in Calling for Hearing and Overhaul of Statewide Health Care Association


Chicago, Illinois, July 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- State and local lawmakers and Aunt Martha's leadership are calling for the comprehensive review of the Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) following racist remarks made by CEO Bruce Johnson. Mounting pressure from lawmakers and IPHCA members led to the resignations of Johnson and the 6-member executive committee after their blatant disregard for and failure to investigate Johnson's offensive, discriminatory behavior.


In a press release sent out Monday, Senator Martin Sandoval (D - Chicago), Co-Chairman of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus called for legislative hearings to "investigate the trail of racism surrounding the resignation of Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) President and CEO Bruce Johnson." Sandoval said; "This isn't just one incident of a racist comment. This was a sustained campaign of intimidation by not just Bruce Johnson but several members of the [IPHCA] executive board."

Public concerns surfaced with the IPHCA following a June 20th meeting between staff from Aunt Martha's Health & Wellness and staff from the Illinois Primary Health Care Association, where it was reported that Bruce Johnson, then President and CEO of the IPHCA, made racist remarks towards Aunt Martha's CEO Raul Garza. Mr. Johnson's remarks included questioning if President Trump allowed Mr. Garza back into the country following a recent trip to Mexico. Mr. Johnson continued pressing Mr. Garza on whether he brought family from Mexico back to the United States and if he lived in Little Village, a neighborhood of Chicago with a high population of Latinos.

Aunt Martha's has filed official complaints with state and federal agencies that oversee the Illinois Primary Health Care Association. These include a Civil Rights Discrimination Complaint to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and complaints to the Inspectors General of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Human Services.

"Mr. Johnson's blatant racism and the subsequent inaction by the executive committee were hurtful and counterproductive to the mission of the IPHCA," said Raul Garza, President & CEO of Aunt Martha's. "Over one-third of the patients IPHCA members serve are Latino. In stark contrast, no Latinos serve in a leadership capacity within the Association. I look forward to helping to rebuild the IPHCA to ensure equitable, diverse representation moving forward."

Formed in 1982, the Illinois Primary Healthcare Association's mission is to "improve the health status of medically underserved populations by fostering the provision of high quality, comprehensive health care that is accessible, coordinated, culturally sensitive and linguistically competent, and community directed."

The Association came under scrutiny by state and local elected officials, including Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia and State Representative Jaime Andrade (D - Chicago), who called for the resignation of leadership and reform of the Association.

While welcoming the initial action that has been taken to remove Bruce Johnson and the members of the Executive Committee, Aunt Martha's joins lawmakers and healthcare leaders in calling for a transparent and open process by the IPHCA's Assembly of Delegates to ensure that new leadership reflects the populations served by its membership and that an objective forum is created to initiate needed organizational reforms.

Aunt Martha's is a private, not-for-profit agency providing coordinated health care and social services for family members of all ages in underserved communities across Illinois. The agency serves more than 60,000 children and adults annually. It is state-licensed to provide child welfare, substance abuse treatment and childcare services, and has been continuously accredited by The Joint Commission since 1997.



Berenice Vallecillos
On behalf of Aunt Martha's Health & Wellness

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