Press Release

May 22, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich recognizes a school board for its excellence in pediatric care and childhood injury prevention initiatives

School board honored with Community Service Award

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, presented the Marion Unit 2 School Board members, with the Ron W. Lee, M.D.-Excellence in Pediatric Care Awards for their 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:

  • Lifetime Achievement – Dr. Karen Sheehan, M.D., MPH – Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago
  • 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

“It is my honor to present, on behalf of the Governor, these awards to the Marion Unit 2 School Board members for their dedication to the highest quality of pediatric care and their solid commitment to improving the quality of life for children and their families,” said Dr. Whitaker.

The Marion Unit 2 School Board in Marion consists of seven board members of various backgrounds and professional careers. Together they serve a district comprised of five elementary schools, one junior high school, one high school and one high school extension center. When the board was presented with information indicating that a large percentage of their students were uninsured or underinsured and without any primary healthcare, they supported a proposal to open a school-based health center for the school district’s 4,000 students and faculty/staff. They realized that this was a step that only two other school districts in southern Illinois had previously taken. In addition, this meant that the proposed health center would service the largest K-12 student population in the area. The board moved forward and in 2005, the opening of its Wellness Center became a reality. In its first year the center has served more than 700 students and staff. It has resulted in a reduction in student absenteeism and has opened up new opportunities to families in the district to receive necessary healthcare and other services for their children. The use of substitute teachers to cover staff sick days has also declined. The Wellness Center continues to grow as evidenced by recent efforts to implement a dental component, and along with that growth, the board continues to support the mission of the Wellness Center.

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