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COLUMNS

Your turn: The power of keeping funds local for health care

Barb Aady
Special to the Rockford Register Star

SwedishAmerican Health Foundation (SAHF) has a new name, and with it, a renewed sense of purpose and a revitalized focus on local impact.

In the past, SAHF generously donated funds to external community organizations and projects. While noble, we saw the potential to redirect the donations we received inward toward the remarkable health care provided by UW Health in our region. In turn, UW Health continues to partner with local community organizations to provide support for critical services that address pressing community needs.

Today, we are proud to declare that all funds raised by SAHF exclusively support internal UW Health services and facilities in northern Illinois, ensuring that every donation directly benefits our local patients and communities.

Why does this matter? Because your donations make a substantial impact on the care we provide our community members in their time of need.

Like 11-year-old Sezar from Rockford whose journey to a new heart began in the emergency department at UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital.

Sezar was the first patient to receive a heart transplant through the UW Health pediatric heart transplant program. Because of this lifesaving program, he is now thriving and back to doing what he loves best: playing soccer.

Or maybe your donation has impacted your family directly. Perhaps you had your children at UW Health SwedishAmerican Hospital? Or had a major surgery or received cancer treatments at UW Health in Rockford?

Whatever your experience, you know what it feels like to need the very best care in times of crisis.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, we can offer lifesaving treatments, leading-edge technologies, personalized care and state-of-the-art facilities.

But what you may not know is that funding health care is not that easy. Hospitals like ours operate on incredibly tight margins (typically 1-2%), leaving little left after operating expenses.

That’s where you come in. With your help, we can do more for patients close to home. Here are a few examples of how your contributions have helped enhance health care in northern Illinois.

  • People in low-income areas in our community can receive free care from our Mobile Health Unit such as acute care, prevention and intervention strategies, health education and referrals to health services and community programs.
  • Uninsured or underinsured patients can better manage their health care at home through our Patient Care Assistance program, which offers medication, medical equipment and transportation assistance.
  • Breast cancer patients can receive assistance and support through the Margaret M. Rudolph Endowment Fund.
  • And starting soon, every newborn will receive a Sleep Sack to use while in the hospital and to take home through the Safe Sleep initiative. These wearable blankets promote safer sleep, reduce infant deaths and give parents greater peace of mind.

As we celebrate this new chapter in our journey, marked by our transition to SwedishAmerican Health Foundation and a renewed focus on local impact, we invite you to join us in shaping a healthier future for our region.

Barb Aaby is the director of the SwedishAmerican Health Foundation.

Our new name honors the legacy of SwedishAmerican, which began humbly 113 years ago with just one dollar donated by O.F. Nilson, who challenged others to each give one dollar toward building a Swedish hospital in Rockford. It also embraces the transformative future of UW Health in northern Illinois.

Together, we have the power to make a difference — one dollar, one donation, one life at a time.

Every dollar donated stays local and helps transform the lives of our families, friends and neighbors.

Keep the tradition of giving alive. Learn more and donate today at swedishamericanhealthfoundation.org.

Thank you for investing in health, hope and community — right here, close to home.

Barb Aaby is the director of the SwedishAmerican Health Foundation.