Press Release

May 22, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich recognizes a doctor his excellence in pediatric care and childhood injury prevention initiatives

 Doctor honored with Clinical Excellence Award

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Gregory Scott, Illinois Department of Public Health Chief of Division of Emergency Medical Services and Highway Safety, presented John Hafner, Jr, M.D. with the Ron W. Lee, M.D.-Excellence in Pediatric Care Awards for his contributions to childhood care. The awards are given annually by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program to recognize those dedicated to pediatric emergency care and childhood injury prevention initiatives. Individuals or organizations can be nominated in one of three award categories - Lifetime Achievement, Clinical Excellence and Community Service.

“It is important to honor those who take so much care with our children, our future,” said Gov. Blagojevich. As parents, we do everything we can to protect our children, but sometimes accidents or illness happen, and that is when we turn to those is pediatric care to help our children through difficult situations.”

This year’s recipients of the Excellence in Pediatric Care Awards are:

  • Clinical Excellence – Dr. John Hafner, Jr. – Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Peoria
  • Clinical Excellence – Dr. Salil Gupta, M.D., FAAP – St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville
  • Lifetime Achievement – Dr. Karen Sheehan, M.D., MPH – Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago
  • Community Service – Dawn Frank, R.N., BSN, TNS, Grayslake Outpatient and Acute Care Facility, Grayslake
  • Community Service – Marion Unit 2 School Board, Marion

“It is my honor to present, on behalf of the Governor, this award to Dr. John Hafner, Jr. for his dedication to the highest quality of pediatric care and their solid commitment to research, injury prevention initiatives and improving the quality of life for children and their families,” said Dr. Whitaker.

John Hafner Jr, M.D. is a Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician at Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. As an emergency department physician at a busy Peoria trauma center, Dr. Hafner has witnessed first-hand the devastation that injuries have on young lives. Over the years, he has become actively involved in research and injury prevention work as related to motor vehicle related injuries. In particular, his focus on all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries in children and adolescents has led to his recognition as a regional and national expert on this subject. In addition, he strongly advocates for proper car seat use, as well as bicycle safety measures such as helmet usage and other safety practices among children and adolescents. In 2003 he was instrumental in obtaining designation for OSF Saint Francis Medical Center to become one of the nation’s Injury Free Coalition for Kids sites, which numbered 30 in the country at that time. As an Injury Free Coalition for Kids site, partnerships have been developed with local law enforcement, firefighters and medical professionals to bring injury prevention education and child passenger safety programs to the community level. Securing grant funding to support injury prevention efforts has been another area that he has been involved in – one example is his work to secure an Allstate Little Hands Playground Grant for the building of a playground that incorporates safety methods at Columbia Park in Peoria. Dr. Hafner’s work also includes involvement in various research activities and over the years he has shared his knowledge and work through papers and publications. Those who submitted letters of support for his nomination for this award describe him as dedicated, hard-working and enthusiastic about improving their community’s childhood injury prevention efforts.

The Illinois EMSC program is a collaborative effort of the Illinois Department of Public Health and Loyola University Medical Center. It was established in 1994 to ensure that the emergency medical care needs of children are adequately addressed.

The Ron W. Lee, M.D. Excellence in Pediatric Care awards are presented each May. Dr. Lee was the director of emergency medicine at Loyola University Medical Center and was instrumental in establishing and fostering the EMSC program in Illinois. He passed away in 1998.


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