50 Years of Caring for our Community!

A look back at some of the key moments of our history.

The Early Years

In 1966, Sister Catherine Francis-a nun at St. Elizabeth’s social center in Rockford, established the community’s first well-baby clinic in partnership with the Visiting Nurses Association. The clinic operated for around two hours one day a month at the St. Elizabeth’s Center on South Main Street in Rockford. Dr. John McHugh was a volunteer doctor at the time. As the years went by, several more well-baby clinics were established to meet the needs and provide preventative care to the children of migrant workers.

Beginning Years

The medical program began in October of 1972, with the hiring of a staff physician who also served as the medical director. By June of 1973, the patient case load totaled 1,400, with 400 dental patients. It’s primary source of income, which was federal funding were withdrawn, and the Clinic was facing the possibility of closing. A massive community appeal was launched in an effort to gather funding to continue operations. At the time the staff consisted of a doctor, three nurses and dentist and a number of volunteers. The clinic cared for about 450 patients, roughly 75% were on public aid. Crusader reached out to local municipalities for funding. The City of Rockford and Rockford Township agreed to contribute in an effort to keep Crusader operating.


Mr. John Frana becomes the administrator of the clinic, a position he held for 23 years until 1997 when the operating budget was $10 million, 200 employees providing services from two clinic facilities. Services included a multi-specialty physician group, adult and pediatric dentistry, social services, health education, laboratory in addition to retail optician and pharmacy operations.


Crusader Clinic was honored with the Rockford Register Star’s Excelsior Award for outstanding community services at a time when nothing but expansion to better serve the needs of the community was on the horizon. Crusader expanded to a new facility at 3041 Kishwaukee Street and acquired the West End Pharmacy.

The Crusader Health Foundation became incorporated in 1985 and it kicked off a $1.5 million fund drive in an attempt to purchase and renovate the Muldoon School for its new headquarters. Patient growth was between 125-160 every week, which spurred the decision for the capital campaign. At this time, the Clinic’s budget was $1.5 million, about 10 times the 1974 budget.


Crusader Clinic moves from the former Muldoon Convent into the Muldoon High School Building. The newly renovated facility was made possible through generous donations $1.2 million received from the Rockford community and the hard work of the Crusader Health Foundation.


Crusader’s Living with HIV/Aids program is established wit the use of funds provided by the Ryan White Act. The program provides primary health care and case management for persons who are HIV positive or living with AIDS. Also, a pediatric center opened to expand care for children.


The Crusader Health Foundation initiated a campaign to establish a $100,000 endowment. This endowment will ensure that the vital healthcare services of Crusader Clinic will be there in the future.  The number of unduplicated patients receiving care increased to 32,562- a 21% increase in just one year. The overwhelming demand taxed current facilities and systems, necessitating the need for additional clinical space.


The Crusader Health Foundation launched a capital campaign to renovate the First of America Bank facility and the adjoining “Broadway Hotel” located at 7th Street & Broadway. The bank donated both facilities to benefit our efforts. The Cosmopolitan Club of Rockford and its International Foundation donated funds to enhance service to diabetic patients.


Crusader Community Health on Broadway opens Uram Building. This was the second site for clinic services. Completion of the renovation of the building was made possible by the Crusader Foundation capital campaign led by Chuck Uram. The campaign raised more than $3 million from 1,800 donors.


Will Rogers was appointed President and CEO by the Crusader Board of Directors. With more than 25 years of working at community health centers, he was selected for his ability to collaborate with community organizations and for being a visionary who likes to build partnerships.





The Rockford Cosmopolitan Club provided funds to establish a Mobile Diabetes Program. The club purchased a mini-van and diabetic testing equipment for the educators to use to provide testing in the community. More than 1,300 persons were screened for diabetes in the first year of the program.

The Muldoon Grove community gardens were developed on the site of the former Muldoon Convent.

Crusader worked with the Boone County Health Department to expand health care to the medically underserved in Boone County.


The Crusader Clinic in Belvidere opened. The newly built facility was developed with federal medical expansion funds.


The Crusader Board of Directors named Gordon Eggers, Jr. as President, and CEO. The 19-year veteran of Crusader, Eggers is a Physician Assistant and holds a master’s degree in Public Health.


Crusader announced its new name and new brand at its 36th Anniversary gala, “Fall in Love with Caring”. The new name “Crusader Community Health” and the tagline “Care Within Reach” reflects Crusader’s modernization, increasing community impact and holistic emphasis on health.


Crusader Community Health received $5.3 million in grant funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to construct a new site in Loves Park and renovate space at the Crusader on Broadway. The new facility was constructed to accommodate four medical providers, an family practice physician, a pediatrician, a mid-level medical provider, a dentist and specialty clinics. The Loves Park facility at 6115 N. Second Street opened in 2011.


Crusader Community Health celebrates 40 years of caring for the community by honoring our founders. Dr. John McHugh and Barbara Roman made substantial contributions to improving health care for our community, that reached over 45,000 area residents through four Crusader Community Health locations.


Crusader Community Health collaborated with Rockford Public Schools to establish a new School Based Health Center at the Auburn High School Field House. The Center helps students move toward healthier lives while continuing to strive for academic excellence.

Crusader opened a pediatric walk-in clinic at Broadway, which evolved into CrusaderNOW, for adults and children.


Crusader began working with area Walgreen’s pharmacies to offer affordable and convenient prescription services to patients. Through a federal drug pricing program, uninsured Crusader patients can purchase most prescription drugs at discounted prices.


Crusader built and opened the Alpine Clinic location. Phase two was completed in 2019. We also expanded our School Based Health Center model to South Beloit and opened locations at the Junior High and High School.


Crusader’s outstanding staff provided care to more than 58,600 patients at eight facilities!


The start of 2020 brought exciting news as Crusader Community Health began its 48th year! After former President and CEO Gordon Eggers, Jr. announced his retirement, the Crusader Community Health Board appointed Samuel Miller the new President and CEO.

Crusader broke ground on its current facility, which is located at the exact same location where we began in 1972, 1200 West State Street. In 2020, our community was hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our commitment to caring for those in our community never wavered, and we are still working with other health care partners to revolve and change our methods for testing and treatment for better outcomes for those affected by it.


Despite being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crusader cut the ribbon on a $13 million dollar building at 1200 W. State Street. The new 48,000 square foot facility has improved and modernized the delivery of medical, dental and behavioral healthcare services for our current and future patients.

From a community vision in 1972 all of those who’ve worked diligently for Crusader from the founders to our Board of Directors, to our CEO’s to our providers, nurses, and support staff, we continue to provide high quality healthcare in a modern environment for present and future patients.