Press Release

May 22, 2006

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

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

Salil Gupta, MDis a Neonatologist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Bellville and is the only neonatologist in St. Clair County. He has been instrumental in developing two, Level II+ Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in southern Illinois - one while stationed at Scott Air Force Base in 1990 and the other at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital 13 years ago. Over the years he has worked to improve and enrich the lives of hundreds of premature and critically ill babies and provides oversight to approximately 1,200 births each year. He has been responsible for a number of successes since establishing the NICU at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, including: a decline in their perinatal mortality rate from 13.2 deaths per 1,000 births to 7.6 deaths per 1,000 births; a decreased length of hospital stay through promotion of an early feeding regimen developed by Dr. Gupta; and zero cases of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) over the past 13 years in the nursery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. NEC is the most common and serious gastrointestinal disorder among hospitalized premature infants, and causes destruction of the bowel or part of the bowel.

Dr. Gupta’s work also includes involvement in various research activities and over the years he has shared his knowledge and work through papers and publications. In addition, he volunteers time to community service work. Over the past five years, he has served on the March of Dimes Board of Directors for the Southern Illinois Division and has been instrumental in securing grant funds for a number of maternal/child health prevention programs in southern Illinois and the St. Louis metro-east area. He also serves on the St. Clair County Infant Mortality Reduction Committee and actively participates in campaigns aimed at preventing sudden infant death and premature births in St. Clair County.

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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Illinois Department of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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TTY 800-547-0466
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