ROCKFORD, Illinois– Since the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile began in 2003 at Mercyhealth, it’s had 11,805 visits with 8,645 children providing more than $2.2 million in free medical and dental care. That includes well-child exams, vaccinations, acute care visits, dental exams and cleanings, sealants and dental restorations.
“The children and families we see on the Care Mobile often have multiple issues with the traditional health care system, whether it be transportation, lack of insurance, or just a general fear of the doctor or dentist office,” said Toni Ellingson, NP/Manager of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at Mercyhealth. “We help overcome those barriers by bringing health care into the community in an inviting, nontraditional way, and we are able to adapt to our families’ needs, one child at a time.”
Ellingson is one of two individuals who’ve made up the dedicated full-time staff for the Care Mobile for its entire 15 years.
“We often have children who have not seen a provider in years due to a fear or specific barrier, and with education and our attention, they leave feeling confident and happy,” said Ellingson.
The Care Mobile is a 40-foot, 26,000-pound pediatric clinic on wheels. The vehicle houses two patient exam rooms, a laboratory, a reception area and a medical records area. It visits host sites in five counties in Illinois, including Boone, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago, and Rock County in Wisconsin.
The Care Mobile also participates in numerous community events every year, including parades and festivals, to increase community awareness and educate children and families. Funding for the program is provided by a generous partnership between the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the Rockford Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and the Mercyhealth Development Foundation.
On Monday, March 19 at 5pm at Rockford City Hall, Mayor Tom McNamara will read a proclamation honoring the 15-year anniversary of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. Earlier in the day at 9 am, the Care Mobile staff was at West Middle School providing free well-child exams for children in the Rockford Public Schools. West Middle is a Mercyhealth Hospital—Rockton Avenue neighborhood partner school.