Illinois Department of Public Health Recognizes Dr. John Underwood for Excellence in Pediatric Care

Ron W. Lee, M.D. Pediatric Care Award – Lifetime Achievement

SPRINGFIELD– The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) program are honoring John Underwood, DO, FACEP, with a special pediatric Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to pediatric emergency medical care.  The Ron W. Lee, M.D. – Excellence in Pediatric Care Awards are given annually by IDPH and EMSC 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.
Dr. Underwood has 40 years of experience as an emergency physician in the Rockford
area, the last 20 years of which he has spent at SwedishAmerican Hospital serving as an emergency physician and as the current EMS Medical Director.  He has also served as the supervising physician for the Rockford Public School District school nurses, and assisted their students with access to Basic Life Support training.  In addition to advocating for children in the Rockford community, Dr. Underwood has spent a significant about of time and resources providing medical care to people in Haiti as part of the Friends of the Children Medical Mission.
“As a pediatrician, I know the importance of recognizing the specific needs of children in emergency situations and that medical care for children may look different from the care for adults,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “It takes great passion and commitment to provide care and treatment during annual missions trips, and I am honored to award Dr. John Underwood the Ron W. Lee, M.D. Excellence in Pediatric Care Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Under Dr. Underwood’s tenure, SwedishAmerican Hospital achieved its first recognition as an Emergency Department Approved for Pediatrics.  This recognition defines national standards Illinois hospitals must meet regarding capabilities in place to manage the emergency care needs of children.  Dr. Underwood made valuable contributions to the recognition process while serving on the Illinois EMSC Quality Improvement Committee for a number of years.
Also, under his direction, SwedishAmerican Hospital’s Paramedic Program became the first nationally accredited program in the region and the second in Illinois.  Dr. Underwood is currently involved with the Mobile Integrated Healthcare Program, or Community Paramedic, where he works with a patient’s primary care physicians in smaller communities to improve the quality of health and life.
“Of course, I have the utmost respect for Dr. Underwood and all he has done to serve this
Community,” said Catherine Lewis, MS.IDT, an EMS Applications Analyst with SwedishAmerican Hospital.  “He is one of those special people who takes time with people, whether you are his patient or someone who works with him, and makes you feel important.”
Through the Friends of the Children, Dr. Underwood has also served the people of Haiti.  He and his team have devoted time every year for 20 years on mission trips to Haiti.  His work includes two weeks of clinic days to address the needs and health of the people.  Each child who comes to the clinic receives a six-month supply of vitamins.  All women in the second and third trimester are evaluated and educated, and the team has taught and collaborated with local midwives.
The Ron W. Lee, M.D. Excellence in Pediatric Care awards are presented each May.  Dr. Lee was the medical director for the Division of Emergency Medical Services and Highway Safety at IDPH, as well as 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.
The Illinois EMSC program is currently a collaborative effort between IDPH and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.  It was established in 1994 to ensure the emergency medical care needs of children are adequately addressed.