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McDonough County Health Department
Health Department's History

History

In 1943, the Illinois General Assembly passed the County Health Act that provided for the establishment and maintenance of county or multiple-county public health departments through referendum or by County Board Resolution.  A cooperative health department was soon established in 1943 with neighboring Fulton County in response to health issues surrounding Camp Ellis.  Camp Ellis was a World War II military training center and prisoner of war camp located between Ipava and Bernadotte, in Fulton County that housed 40,000 military and civilian personnel and 5000 prisoners of war.

Camp Ellis was dissolved in October, 1946, after the end of the war.  Fulton County passed a referendum in November, 1946 to continue on with a health department, but McDonough County did not.

In the years that followed McDonough County had a county public health nurse to continue handling school health issues and tuberculosis.  The cost for these services was divided between the County Tuberculosis Sanitarium Board and the McDonough County Board.  In 1956, a Citizens Committee began working toward a county health department.  Two years later, in 1958, a referendum to establish a bi-county health department with Hancock County was defeated after a very volatile and bitter campaign.
Several unsuccessful efforts for a resolution health department were presented to the County Board during the next decade.  The League of Women Voters took an active role from 1969 – 1972 by completing a study about available health services in McDonough County, and publishing that information on a community level.  The League hosted several meetings during this time with the support of the Illinois Department of Public Health and the McDonough District Hospital Auxillary.  Gradually, citizen interest in a health department grew, with the Macomb City Council showing strong support. 

In the fall of 1974, a City-County Health Department Steering Committee was appointed by County Board Chairman Robert Ausbury, and  Macomb Mayor Bob Anstine.  Committee members included Bob Clow, Eileen Niestradt, Dr. V. B. Adams, Dave McConkey, Robert Synovitz, E. G. Morrison and Kay Fors.  The Steering Committee submitted a proposal to the Illinois Department of Public Health requesting a $15,000.00 grant to help fund a City-County Health Department.

In December 1974 the Macomb City Council voted in favor of a City-County Health Department, and voted to help fund it.  The County Board followed suit and on February 13, 1975 passed the following resolution:

“Be it resolved by the County Board of McDonough County, Illinois, that a Health Department is hereby established for the County of McDonough, and that the chairman of the County Board is instructed to appoint a Board of Health consisting of eight (8) members.”

On April 17, 1975 the McDonough County Board of Health held their first organizational meeting.  It was agreed upon that the official name would be the McDonough County Health Department.  The first personnel hired were the county health nurse and her secretary. 


Board of Health Members 1975-1976
E.G. Morrison, President
Budris Andernovics, M.S., Vice President
Marcia Moll, Secretary
Jack Stites, RPh, Treasurer
Marvin Johnson, D.D.S.
Eileen Niestradt, R.N.
D.R. Samuelson, M.D.
Gloria Hurh
Robert Clow, Retired
V. B. Adams, M.D., deceased

The McDonough County Health Department officially opened its doors on July 1, 1975.   The offices were originally headquartered in a small rented room in the basement of McDonough District Hospital, 505 East Grant Street in Macomb, Illinois.  Initial programs included Home Health, Homemaker services, Environmental Health, Vision and Hearing Screenings and Public Health Nursing.  Blood pressure screenings and county-wide influenza vaccination clinics were added later that year.

Staff 1975-1976
Marco D. Monti, M.P.H., Administrator
Kathleen Markey, R.N.
Lois Kreps, R.N.
Bertha Castlebury, R.N.
Donna Heidenreich, Scretary
Sharon Keeling, Clerk
Jack Thorpe, R.S. Sanitarian
Marilyn Schlabach, Vision & Hearing Technician

Part-Time Homemakers
Rolene Bailey
Eleanor McTeague
Ann Bryant
Cindy Payne
Norma Yeoman
Shirley Hickey
Jill Ketcham

The health department offices were moved to 3 Doctor’s Lane, Macomb, Illinois, in August 1976, and later to 303 East Jefferson in Macomb, Illinois on August 18, 1981.  Programs continued to grow to fill the need of the community.   

Having originally been funded by resolution, the Health Department derived its local revenue from Macomb City Council and the McDonough County Board.   Soon it became apparent that the Revenue Sharing Funds provided by these sources would be inadequate to maintain programs and services.  In June 1984, the McDonough County Board resolved to allow voters to decide if they wanted to pay a tax to support the programs of the McDonough County Health Department. 

“Citizens for Public Health” was formed in July 1984 to back the proposed tax levy for the Health Department.  This group along with the League of Women Voters, became instrumental in making the county residents aware of the importance of the referendum and the services provided by the Health Department.

On election day November 6, 1984, the citizens of McDonough County voted by a 56-43% ratio to support the Health Department through a referendum.  For the first time, the Health Department had a more stable funding base at the local level.

On January 15, 1988, the Health Department offices relocated to the present location of 505 East Jackson Street, Macomb, Illinois, where it continues to work to fulfill its mission:

"To assess the health needs in McDonoughCounty and strive to maximize access to acceptable and appropriate health care, health protection, and health education to meet those needs. With its available resources, the McDonough County Health Department will provide services which are necessary to meet the community health needs."