The Ronald McDonald Mobile Clinic literally drove into town with a great deal on wheels providing free medical exams and immunizations for Forest Park kids last week.

Diane Dormeyer, District 91’s health services coordinator, said the clinic strives to provide underinsured and uninsured families with the necessary medical services for their school age children. Physical examinations, immunizations, pulmonary function and laboratory testing, were all available at no charge, along with growth, hearing and vision screenings.

“The state of Illinois now has quite a few requirements regarding health checks for school age kids, so it’s really important that families take advantage of this wonderful service,” Dormeyer said.

The mobile medical unit belongs to the Ronald McDonald Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center.

“Our program is completing its ninth year working throughout the metropolitan area,” Susan Finn, program director for the pediatric mobile health unit said. “We’re privately funded and our mission is to help children and families who have trouble with access to health care. Our focus is getting their health care needs met.”

In addition to the mobile clinic’s initial visit last Thursday, Finn and a small team of medical professionals will make return visits to the Park District grounds during the next three Thursdays (July 5, July 12, and July 19) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children will be examined on a first-come first-served basis, however must be accompanied by a parent and registered by 1 p.m. on the day of their visit.

“We try to make our service child-friendly,” Finn added. “With all the changes in our health care system, we work with collaborators in communities to navigate the system and help us identify families in need.”

Dormeyer, an experienced school nurse who serves as a liaison between the Ronald McDonald Mobile Clinic and Forest Park residents, is quick to point out that the exorbitant costs of insurance often adversely affect the large, varied demographic of “the underinsured.”

“Like many communities, we have people (here) who work that say, ‘I have insurance and I have $400 a month taken out of my checks every month, but it still doesn’t cover the cost,'” Dormeyer said. “The cost of insurance can be prohibitive even for hard-working, middle class people. This program really helps a lot of folks.”

Ellawease Cobbs and her 7-year-old grandson, D’Marco, enjoyed their visit to the mobile clinic.

“I think this is a very beneficial program for the kids,” Cobbs said. “I bring the kids every year for a physical. It’s a great program because it’s convenient, simple and easy.”

Fellow Forest Park resident, Yolanda Berndt, who brought her three daughters Veronica, Laura and Gabriela for physicals, also offered nothing but praise for the mobile health clinic.

“The program is very helpful,” Berndt said. “It’s free and very close to our home.”

Aside from the obvious benefits of a check up, Dormeyer noted that it’s also critical for parents to make sure their children have all the mandated and sport physical examinations required by the district. For example, anyone including cheerleaders participating in school-sponsored sports must have a current physical exam on file.

“We don’t want any kids excluded from school for medical non-compliance,” Dormeyer said. “There’s no excuse for it really. Anybody can walk over and get their kids a free examination.”