As a nurse with over twenty years of experience in the healthcare industry, Joyce Washington understands the challenges that many Illinois residents encounter when looking for quality healthcare that they can afford. Joyce believes that the richest country in the world should be able to provide good health care to all of its citizens. That’s why Joyce believes that it is time to provide universal access to quality, affordable healthcare. Joyce Washington wants to take her practical, hands-on knowledge to the US Senate to build a better health care system for all Illinois families.
When Joyce earned her nursing degree, no one in her family was surprised. Joyce was born in rural Tennessee where her parents - her father was an auto mechanic and her mother is a retired school teacher - ingrained in her the importance of church, family and community at a young age. Attending segregated schools until college, Joyce learned the importance of getting a good education and working hard to achieve her goals. Choosing a career that involved hard work and giving back to her community was only natural for Joyce.
Joyce began her career in health care on the front lines as an emergency room nurse and working in underserved communities. Later in her career, Joyce has worked to make hospitals more responsive to the needs of our communities, and to make hospitals more efficient. During her tenure as President and CEO of HCA Riveredge and Chicago Lakeshore Hospitals, Joyce led the opening of an outpatient substance abuse center, added an adolescent unit, and oversaw facilities renovation. While at HCA, Joyce also chaired the region-wide Workforce Diversity Committee and served as COO of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center.
Success as a health care professional has led Governors from both parties to look to Joyce for her insight and has allowed her to continue to give back to her community. As a public servant, Joyce has worked to improve access to healthcare. She was appointed by Governors Ryan, Edgar and Thompson to serve on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, a board created to anticipate and plan for the future healthcare needs of Illinois. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the DuSable Museum, the United Way, the NAACP, and the Gilead Outreach and Referral Center, an organization that assists uninsured African-Americans in obtaining healthcare coverage.
In March 2002, Joyce ran for Lt. Governor in the Democratic Primary. Her extraordinary five-month effort surprised most political pundits – Joyce raised almost $600,000, received the endorsement of over 100 ministers and local elected officials, carried Cook County, and received over 350,000 votes. Following the Primary, Joyce was asked to campaign statewide for Rod Blagojevich for Governor, traveling across the state speaking before constituent groups and Democratic activists.
Upon his election, Governor Blagojevich tapped Joyce to chair his Healthcare Advisory Task Force, which consisted of over 400 members charged with proposing policy options and programs to increase access to healthcare, reform the Illinois Medicaid Program, stabilize the healthcare system and recommend specific actions regarding HIV/AIDS, prescription drugs, women’s health and mental illness.
With the selection of Dr. Bill Frist as Senate Majority Leader, the U.S. Senate is beginning to move forward a healthcare-oriented agenda. Over the next few years, legislation being introduced today will address the crises we face in our healthcare system. With her unique experience as a nurse and hospital administrator, Joyce would be an outstanding contributor shaping this legislation.
If elected, Joyce will be the second African-American woman in history to serve in the U.S. Senate and the only African American currently serving.