Press Release

May 22, 2008


State public health department recognizes Winnebago County Health Department for its excellence in pediatric care

 Health department honored with Community Service Award

ROCKFORD, Ill. – Dr. Walter J. Bradley, Senior Medical Administrator for the Illinois Department of Public Health Office of Preparedness and Response, presented the Winnebago County Health Department and its Refugee Program with a special pediatric care award today for its contributions to childhood care. The Ron W. Lee, M.D. –Excellence in Pediatric Care 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.

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

  • Lifetime Achievement – Leslee Stein-Spenser, R.N., M.S. – Manager of Quality Assurance for the Medical Administration of Regulatory Compliance Division of the Chicago Fire Department.
  • Clinical Excellence – Mary “Mo” Otting, R.N. – EMS Coordinator for Children’s Memorial Hospital
  • Community Service - Winnebago County Health Department

“The Winnebago County Health Department Refugee Program not only provides immunizations and complete physicals for children coming from Poland, Somalia and Laos, to name a few, staff have gone above and beyond to follow-up on the general health of immigrant children. One example is a two-year-old with a high blood lead level. Staff took the time to identify the source of the lead poisoning and tracked medical care for this refugee. The Winnebago County Health Department excels in providing care and support to refugee children,” said Dr. Bradley.

The Winnebago County Health Department Refugee Program began providing services in 1981 and works closely with Catholic Charities of Rockford and Rock Valley College. Beyond medical exams and immunizations, the staff at the health department has reached out to refugee families by providing food and toys during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

“The staff is kind, professional and efficient in their health screenings, physicals and immunizations. They make home visits to the families and access their living conditions, making sure the families are safe from hazards such as lead poisoning. During the health screenings and physicals, they take the time to follow up on any medical issues that are present and refer every patient for follow-up appointments that need them,” said Jeanne Lindberg, Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services Program Director.

When health department staff sees medical issues with refugee children and adolescents, they make necessary referrals to reduce the chance for future illness or emergency injuries. Staff members help care for refugee children and adolescents who often come to the U.S. with serious illness like HIV or Tuberculosis.

Rock Valley College Refugee and Immigrant Services Program Director Amy Massoth said, “The home visits for refugee children and referrals to other providers have helped my staff to know that the children are not forgotten. It is normal for our program to see the adults for their employment and adjustment needs, but it is the staff at the Winnebago County health Department that is able to see all of the family together and determine when emergency services are needed in addition to decreasing risk factors by giving lead screenings and assisting HIV infected youth with support.”

Over the years, health department staff has attended conferences to learn more about caring for refuges, including safety and education for children in preventing medical emergencies.

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 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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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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