Mercyhealth Woodstock Marks 20 Years of Service

This fixture in the local health care scene has made a name for itself not only through its distinguished specialty physicians but by its constant investment in the community.

Dermatologist Dr. Jeffrey Altman is one of many specialists serving patients at Mercyhealth Woodstock, in Woodstock. The clinic maintains a wide range of practices, with additional experts visiting from the Javon Bea Hospital and Physician Clinic–Riverside in Rockford.

Twenty years ago, the corner of Lake Avenue and U.S. Route 14 in Woodstock was a sleepy little corner. It was well-traversed, but surrounded mostly by cornfields. Today, it’s a busy business district at an important crossroads for McHenry County’s population.

When Mercyhealth planted a clinic here in July 1999, its placement was strategic and its timing fortuitous. Located centrally in what was then the fastest-growing region in Illinois, Mercyhealth Woodstock set its sights on becoming a major player in McHenry County’s health care ecosystem.

Now, two decades later, as Mercyhealth and its Woodstock clinic have expanded their reach, this busy clinic is living up to its promise.

“If you know anything about Mercyhealth, you know we’re all about bringing services closer to home for our patients,” says Carole Ostrom, clinic director.

Indeed, Mercyhealth Woodstock offers some 25 specialties, covering everything from family practice physicians and pediatricians to specialists including surgeons, therapists, internists, radiologists and cardiovascular experts. Among the clinic’s diverse staff are seven primary care physicians, five family medicine specialists, two internists and three pediatricians.

An in-house urgent care center is open seven days a week, bringing in patients for a variety of needs.

And, Mercyhealth’s occupational health team continues to grow as it serves the needs of expanding companies across McHenry County.

“A lot of the primary care physicians in the McHenry County area who are not employed by Mercyhealth refer their patients here for specialty care, labs and radiology,” says Ostrom. “So, we’re pretty well-known for a lot of things.”

Its wide draw of services allows Mercyhealth Woodstock to provide a one-stop-shop for medical care at all junctures of life. The growing range of subspecialists in-house makes it easier to provide coordinated care between multiple physicians.

“The patient might be seen by a physical therapist, and the therapist can come over and talk with that person’s family practice physician,” says Ostrom. “Our OB patients come in before they give birth, and then our pediatric department sees the children after birth. Everything is on one medical record, meaning any Mercyhealth physician can coordinate a patient’s care.”

Ostrom expects even more services to begin appearing at Mercyhealth Woodstock as it taps into the advanced expertise at Mercyhealth’s Javon Bea Hospital and Physician Clinic–Riverside, located about 30 miles away in far-east Rockford.

Conveniently located off Interstate 90, the hospital is an Illinois-designated children’s hospital with the region’s largest, most experienced Level III (highest level) neonatal intensive care unit. Several of the facility’s pediatric gastroenterologists are seeing patients at Mercyhealth Woodstock.

“They’ve been in the clinic for about a year and a half now,” says Ostrom. “It’s a huge advantage because our pediatric gastro patients are no longer having to drive to Rockford. Or, we’ve had patients who might have been seeing specialists in downtown Chicago. We’re really bringing that care closer to home for our patients.”

Doubling down on its commitment to the region, Mercyhealth Woodstock and its team members are also major contributors to the local community. Over the past few years, Mercyhealth partners have donated sweaters and jackets to the Community Action Agency of McHenry County Head Start program, served at the Memory Garden at Woodstock’s Independence Health & Therapy, and hand made cards for the children of CASA of McHenry County.

Several times a year, the clinic’s nurse practice council helps out at Woodstock North High School’s health fair, connecting young people with careers in health care. They’ve also spoken with area youths about suicide prevention. You’ll periodically see nurses at several local libraries – including in Woodstock, Harvard and Algonquin – offering up blood pressure screenings, health and wellness screenings, and flu shots, among other services.

For all of its efforts, Mercyhealth Woodstock received the Community First Award last year from United Way of Greater McHenry County, an award given in recognition of Mercyhealth’s “culture of giving” and continued service to United Way efforts.

“It really speaks volumes for our partners, for the people who work here, that we’re very willing to give back to the community, and to get out there and volunteer,” says Ostrom, who’s led the clinic for the past two years.

Ostrom has spent nearly 14 years with Mercyhealth, starting as a reception team lead in the organization’s Barrington clinic and moving her way up the ranks through clinics in Cary, Fox River Grove, McHenry and Beloit.

Over that time, she’s seen many changes in the northwest suburbs and in the health care industry. McHenry County grew explosively in the years leading up to the 2008 recession. In 2015, Mercyhealth was formed from a merger between Rockford-based Rockford Health System and Janesville-based Mercy Health System. The new organization has made more than $1 billion in investments to its facilities and its ability to serve patients in northern Illinois.

Ostrom also encourages her team to continue their education, supporting nurses who want to earn advanced degrees in their fields while building their careers at Mercyhealth.

Looking forward, Mercyhealth is eyeing growth opportunities in delivering new subspecialties that better cater to the changing population of McHenry County. Organization leaders are monitoring the growth of new families and real estate hot spots around the area.

Mercyhealth is also monitoring the next Community Needs Assessment, part of a quadrennial study of the county’s health measures, availability of medical resources, and gaps or barriers to care. The next survey will be completed and released in 2021, and Mercyhealth expects to adapt its strategies based on the results.

“We’re trying to stay abreast of the community’s needs,” she says.

Surrounded by busy businesses on a well-traveled stretch of roadway at the heart of McHenry County, Mercyhealth Woodstock continues to be at the center of something exciting in the region’s health care environment, just as it’s done for 20 years and counting.

“I’ve lived in McHenry County for 30 years, and I remember when this location opened,” Ostrom says. “The only thing here was Farm & Fleet. Walmart wasn’t there. Culver’s wasn’t there. Kohl’s and Menard’s weren’t. We were it. And, actually, we’re still it. We’re right here, ready to serve.”