The per capita income in Winnebago County is nearly $7,000 lower than the state overall. That difference adds up to a big problem for our children's.
Melissa Lamb gave birth to a healthy baby three weeks ago, but the road to the happy day was long and hard.
Lamb lost her job and her insurance soon after becoming pregnant. She enrolled for Medicaid, but her doctor would not accept it.
"I started having complications so I went to the hospital and my sister called around and asked you know when different places could get me in and they couldn't get me in until September and this was in June," says Lamb.
Lamb turned to the Crusader Community Clinic. She says her baby might not have survived without it.
A recent study says only about 80 percent of Women in Winnebago County get the prenatal care they need. That's five percentage points lower than the rest of the state.
"The unemplyment in the Rockford area and Winnebago County is very troubling for children because the crossover to poor health statistics is very clear," says Jerry Sturmer, president of Voices for Illionois Children, the group that conducted the study.
Since 1998, the number of children on Medicaid in Winnebago County has grown from 16,000 to nearly 28,000.
As Lamb found out, many doctors don't accept Medicaid because it doesn't fully cover the cost of the care they provide. That's where Crusader Clinic comes in.
"Last year we delivered 981 babies in the Rockford area, now this accounts for 25% of all babies born in Winnebago County and a 60% increase in the number of deliveries by Crusader physicians since 2003," says Linda Niemiec, Vice President Development of Crusader Clinic.
Niemiec says the clinic works hard to provide consistent care for mothers and children, including regular checkups and dental care, no matter how much or how little parents can pay.
Universal healthcare is on the agenda for several 2008 presidential candidates and the All Kids program here in Illinois seeks to provide insurance for every child in the state. That's very important because kids need access to regular checkups to catch medical problems in advance rather than trying to fix them after the fact in a very expensive emergency room.