Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Delnor offers informational session on sleep apnea

GENEVA—When sleep patterns are affected, it could be Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. Sleep apnea is very common, and affects more than twelve million Americans.

“Because of the lack of awareness, the vast majority remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences,” said Dr. Sunil Desai, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center, and board certified in sleep medicine,

Join Dr. Sunil Desai on Wednesday, June 1, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Delnor Health and Wellness Center as he discusses Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), cardiovascular and metabolic consequences; method of diagnosis, role of CPAP therapy in reducing CVA, atrial fibrillation, better blood sugar and weight loss. The event is free, but registration is required. Call (630) 208-3999.

Eggleston named interim executive director

BATAVIA—Elderday Center, a nonprofit adult day center in Batavia, recently named Traci Eggleston, MSW, its interim executive director.

Eggleston will be responsible for creating a smooth transition for the agency’s future endeavors in providing quality day services to senior citizens and their caregivers in Kane County.

Since 1990, Elderday Center has provided day programming, socialization and caregiver support for older adults in Kane County. The agency promotes independence for older adults and prevents premature nursing home placement while having fun and remaining engaged in the community.

“I’m looking forward to having a greater impact by giving back to those who have served this community in a variety of ways. It’s an honor to provide quality programming and services to enrich lives. This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those who have had an impact on my life—former teachers, maintenance workers, engineers, postal workers, nurses, business professionals, etc.,’” Eggleston said.

Prior to this appointment, Eggleston has been with Elderday Center for almost three years in a variety of roles, most recently serving as development director. Eggleston holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in social work with a specialization in gerontology, and a certificate in marketing.

To learn more about Elderday Center, call (630) 761-9750 or visit ElderdayCenter.org.

Cancer and the law: insurance options after cancer

GENEVA—The LivingWell Cancer Resource Center will host a presentation led by Monica Fawzy, a staff attorney at The Cancer Legal Resource Center, on Wednesday, May 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. The presentation will discuss health and life insurance options after a cancer diagnosis.

Some questions that will be answered during this discussion include:
• How does cancer impact your ability to get health insurance or life insurance?
• What impact will the healthcare reform have for survivors in need of health insurance?

This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling (630) 262-1111. Questions are encouraged, so please bring yours to this presentation.

The path to living well

Photo: Tracey Marut

The Sixth Annual Bridge Walk
5K walk along the Fox River

Saturday, May 14
7 a.m. rain or shine
Fabyan Forest Preserve
bridgewalk.kintera.org to register

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—Elburn resident Tracey Marut passed away in September after a 10-year battle with colon cancer, but not before she made a big contribution to a place that had done so much for her and her husband Dave. The Living Well Cancer Resource Center in Geneva is a place where people living with cancer can find support and care and give it themselves.

“We had an incredible experience with Living Well,” Dave said. “They made her last year, and mine, a joy-filled one. She is very well-remembered there.”

During the last few years of her life, Tracey volunteered to teach kids in art, as she continued the weekly or bi-weekly treatments for cancer that she had been having since she was first diagnosed in 1999. Dave was able to get support at Living Well for his role as caregiver.

“There are wonderful people there. You can find a peaceful, serene setting with people who are in similar types of situations. For me, as the caregiver, (there were people) I met with on a regular basis.”

Marut will join nearly 1,500 people on Saturday, May 14, as they set out on a path not only to raise awareness of and collect funds for cancer services at LivingWell, but also to celebrate survivors of cancer in their walk through this disease.

The day begins at 7 a.m. rain or shine with a Celebration Walk for cancer survivors. The 500-foot path will be lined with 75 students from St. Charles and Geneva schools’ drill teams, cheerleading squads and color guard, along with the five-member fire department color guard.

“We want to celebrate their courage and their lives, and what they have accomplished,” LivingWell Director Susan Mielke said. “We are excited because we spent a lot of energy on making this a meaningful event this year.”

The survivors nominate someone to act as Grand Marshall, and that person will be named before the start of the walk. As the Grand Marshall leads the walk down the path, Mary Hunt, a local jazz singer, will sing “We Are the Champions.” Afterwards, Hines Floral will give floral pots to the walkers. Then everyone will be treated to a huge breakfast.

“We have tons of food. It’s amazing what we’ve got. It’s a gourmet breakfast,” Mielke said.

After the Celebration Walk, the 5K Bridge Walk begins. This is Marut’s first walk and the first walk since Tracey’s death. He has rallied family and friends into a 12-person team called Tracey’s Troopers.

“We’re walking in her honor and her memory,” he said. “Tracey was an unbelievable model (for those living with cancer). She never once relented. She went through quite an ordeal.”

Last year, the Bridge Walk raised a total of $275,000. The funds are used to support the center’s 50 programs and services that are provided free of charge to cancer survivors, their families and anyone affected by cancer. The center has daily offerings of classes that instill knowledge, connect mind, body and spirit, and provide community for people living with cancer.

The center accepts donations of money and expertise. Its classes are taught by volunteers in areas such as fitness, yoga, Reiki, Tai Chi, NIA and Qi gong. It conducts support groups for various forms of cancer, grief groups and informational presentations.

“The center helped me so much in my transition. (I was able to take) Reiki treatments and massages ( during that difficult time). I can’t say enough about LivingWell. The counselors are young, but incredibly wise. They changed both Tracey’s and my lives,” Marut said.

With only five staff members, LivingWell relies on volunteers. Both the volunteers and the people living with cancer bring positive feelings to the center.

“The building is filled with good energy and love,” Mielke said. “I can’t walk through the halls without someone stopping to say ‘thank you.’ When I’m all stressed from fundraising, all I have to do is stop and talk to someone for a few minutes, and it fills me up. I remember why I’m here.”

Marut is so inspired by what he experienced at Living Well that he is putting all his efforts into supporting its message and raising funds to keep the programs going. He has become an ambassador for the center and goes to different functions to spread the word.

“At this point in my life, I’ve decided I’m going to help support them, help raise money for them and do as much as I can for them, he said. “I will tell every single person I meet how great LivingWell is.”

He has also decided to set up in Tracey’s name a college scholarship fund for students whose lives have been affected by cancer and also a fund that will donate its proceeds to the center.

As he looks forward to the Bridge Walk this weekend, Marut reflects on the message of Living Well.

“The message of Living Well is terrific, that despite this horrible illness, you can live a quality life. For our group, it will be a great day of celebration in Tracey’s memory. I know we’ll all be thinking about her. And you can’t think of her without seeing the joy. That’s what Living Well is all about,” he said.

Health Department conducts food-borne illness outbreak investigation

Kane County—The Kane County Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health Laboratories, and other local health departments have reported a recent increase in Salmonella ser. Typhimurium in Northeastern Illinois.

In approximately the past two weeks, 10 cases of Salmonella ser. Typhimurium with a matching PFGE, or genetic, pattern have been reported In Illinois. This pattern is rare in Illinois. At least two additional cases of S. Typhimurium are pending the PFGE results. Cases in other states have also been identified.

While the investigation is ongoing, a common potential link is that seven of the people affected reported having eaten at Portillo’s in St. Charles during the month of April. No specific food item has been identified to be source of the illness.

The management of Portillo’s is actively cooperating with state and local health officials in the investigation. The restaurant was sanitized over night Monday, and is having all its food handlers tested for possible infection.

Before returning to work, the restaurant’s food handlers will need to provide two samples for testing, each one 24 hours apart. Portillo’s has called in workers from some of its other locations so that it can operate while waiting for the test results of the other staff members.

The seven people have tested positive for Typhimurium Salmonella. Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment or ever visiting a doctor. However, in order to assist in the investigation, the Health Department is recommending that anyone who has had these symptoms visit their personal physician.

Stroke, osteoporosis screenings come to Sugar Grove

SUGAR GROVE—Residents living in and around the Sugar Grove community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture.

Sugar Grove Community House, 141 Main St., will host a Life Line Screening on Thursday, May 26.

Four key points every person needs to know:
• Stroke is the third-leading cause of death,
and a leading cause of permanent
disability.
• Eighty percent of stroke victims had no
apparent warning signs prior to
their stroke.
• Preventive ultrasound screenings can help
you avoid a stroke.
• Screenings are fast, noninvasive,
painless, affordable and convenient.

Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease. A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered, and is appropriate for both men and women.

Packages start at $139. All five screenings take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. For more information regarding the screenings, or to schedule an appointment, visit www.lifelinescreening.com or call 1-877-237-1287. Pre-registration is required.

LivingWell Cancer Center announces‘Living with Chronic Cancer’

Geneva—Learn ways to cope with the physical and emotional effects of living with cancer during a Q&A session on Wednesday, May 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center.

After the initial cancer diagnosis, many people are faced with months and sometime years of treatment. Living with chronic cancer or experiencing the continuing side effects from ongoing cancer treatment can take a toll on physical, psychological and social needs. This presentation will offer ways to cope with the ongoing challenges of chronic cancer diagnoses.

This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling (630) 262-1111.

LivingWell is a provider of non-medical support at no cost for people living with cancer. The center is at 1803 W. State St. in Geneva and online at www.LivingWellCRC.org.

Wellness Concepts’ Women’s Health & Weight Loss Symposium

Symposium on
‘Women’s Health and Weight Loss’
Saturday, May 14
10 am-2 pm
Wellness Concepts conference room
2075 Foxfield Road, St. Charles.

Registration fee is $15 per person.
Food and refreshments will be provided
at the noon break.
Call (630) 587-4338, ext. 1

ST. CHARLES—Feeling fat, frumpy and frazzled? Confused about the pros and cons of various weight loss programs? Would you like to learn how to overcome your adrenal balance, restore your thyroid and lose weight?

If so, Martin Plotkin, MD, and the staff of Wellness Concepts invite you to join them for a symposium on ‘Women’s Health and Weight Loss’ from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, at the Wellness Concepts conference room, 2075 Foxfield Road, St. Charles.

Registration fee is $15 per person. Food and refreshments will be provided at the noon break. Call (630) 587-4338, ext. 1, to sign up. Limited seating is available.

The seminar will be divided into three parts and presented by Karen Connolly, a certified nutritionist, and Dr. Plotkin. Plotkin is a licensed physician, surgeon and educator with over 45 years experience in areas of medical practice that are truly multi-dimensional and unlikely to be matched by other medical doctors.

In addition, state-of-the-art MicroNutrient Testing will be available.

“Join us to learn how to avoid the pitfalls and detours of weight loss, while we provide you with a science based informational and guidance program to ensure your journey is an adventure, rather than an arduous task,” Plotkin said.

Bring a friend to receive a $10 gift card. For more information, visit www.wellnessconceptsllc.com.

Memorial Walk for families grieving infant loss

ELGIN—Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice, a nonprofit organization offering support for those with life-threatening illnesses and the bereaved, will hold a Memorial Walk for families who are grieving the death of a baby on Saturday, May 7, at 9 a.m. at Bluff City Cemetery Office, 945 Bluff City Blvd., Elgin, Ill.

All family members and friends who have been affected by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or infant losses are invited to participate in this remembrance service and planting of a tree. Participants are encouraged to bring small memorial items such as pictures, letters, an infant’s toy or any other meaningful item they wish to place in an infant-sized casket, which will be buried during the service. Presiding over the service will be Provena Saint Joseph chaplain Arlene Metcalf and Sherman Hospital chaplain Neris Diaz-Cabello. Coffee, hot chocolate and donuts will be served after the service.

The walk will take place regardless of weather. It is offered in conjunction with Provena Saint Joseph and Provena Mercy Hospitals, and Bluff City Cemetery. There is no charge, but advanced registration is requested at (630) 232-2233.

All programs and services of Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice are offered free of charge to residents of Kane and Kendall counties, and parts of DuPage, Cook, and McHenry counties. For more information on the agency, see www.fvvh.org.

LivingWell Bridge Walk

GENEVA—LWCRC will hold its sixth annual Bridge Walk to raise awareness and funds for the organization’s 50 programs and services. The 5K Walk and Celebration Walk will take place Saturday, May 14, at Fabyan Park in Geneva.

Most people have had cancer touch their lives in someway, be it through a personal battle or standing by a loved one diagnosed with the disease. Places like Geneva’s LivingWell Cancer Resource Center (LWCRC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by cancer and help ease the journey for patients and families alike.

LWCRC knows that a healthy dose of community support and love go a long way in the fight against cancer. In addition to a 5K walk along the Fox River, the Bridge Walk will include a Celebration Walk for cancer survivors. The whole family will enjoy a fun morning of live music, refreshments, and children’s activities set in the beautiful Kane County Forest Preserve.

The event begins at 7 a.m., rain or shine. Visit http://bridgewalk.kintera.org to register for the walk. Participants can register with a sponsored team, multiple, family, or as an individual.

Successfully stop smoking

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Tobacco QUITLINE has added weekend hours for the first time and expanded its daily hours of operation until 11 p.m. to provide more opportunities for Illinoisans trying to quit smoking, said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, state public health director.

The expanded hours for the QUITLINE, which is operated by the American Lung Association, were made possible by an increase in Tobacco Settlement funding from the General Assembly from $1 million last fiscal year to $2 million in the 2011 fiscal year.

The QUITLINE’s new hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. English and Spanish-speaking counselors are on staff, and translation services are available in more than 150 languages, including sign language. Previously, the QUITLINE only operated on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“Nicotine is highly addictive and … breaking that addiction is harder for some people than others, and different methods, such as counseling or nicotine replacement therapy, may work better for one person than for another,” Arnold said. “The expanded services the Illinois Tobacco QUITLINE now offers can help people determine which smoking cessation method works for them.”

“It takes the average person seven tries before they can quit smoking for good,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in Illinois. “This new funding allows us to be a part of more quit attempts and to see our callers through to their last cigarette. For every dollar spent helping smokers quit, the state saves $1.29 due to fewer tobacco disease-related hospitalizations state Medicaid pays for, and through increased productivity of our workforce. Not only will this save money, it will save lives.”

The QUITLINE is staffed by medical professionals and counselors who:
• Ask callers about their readiness to quit, history of tobacco use and previous quit attempts.
• Customize a cessation program to the caller’s need.
• Mail a “quit kit” including self-help materials, information about nicotine replacement therapies and requested health information.
• Maintain weekly communication with participants for a minimum of six weeks. Make follow-up calls at three months, six months and twelve months.
• Discuss all issues relating to lung health and provide physician referrals and information about medicines and treatments when requested.

In fiscal year 2005, the QUITLINE received almost 4,300 calls. Just five years later in fiscal year 2010, almost 34,000 people called the QUITLINE. It’s anticipated the QUITLINE will receive an additional 10,000-12,000 calls this year due to the expanded hours and outreach efforts.

The most recent statistics show that in 2009 approximately 19 percent of Illinoisans considered themselves smokers, compared to roughly 23 percent 10 years earlier in 1999.

For help to stop smoking, call the Illinois Tobacco QUITLINE at 1-866- QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937). Hearing-impaired persons can call 1-800-501-1068.

Life after Cancer presentation

Geneva—The LivingWell Cancer Resource Center will offer a panel discussion led by five cancer survivors, who will address the issues that each one of them faced once their treatment ended and how they dealt and are still dealing with them. The presentation will be from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27.

This will be an interactive discussion, so please bring any specific questions you may have. This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required by calling (630) 262-1111.

The center is at 1803 W. State St. in Geneva and online at www.LivingWellCRC.org.

Delnor’s Giving Tree helps make reading fundamental

Geneva—For the month of April, Delnor’s Giving Tree will collect books for all ages and donate them to both Lazarus and Hesed houses.

Delnor Hospital will collect new and used hardcover, paperback and box sets of children’s, teen, adult, audio and large print books.

The Giving Tree, located in the Delnor Hospital atrium, allows for employees to easily drop off their contribution.

For community members making a donation, just pull in to the entrance of Delnor Hospital. The valet parking staff will take donated items and place them by the Delnor Giving Tree. Valet is available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

By the numbers

Study looks at Kane’s health
KANE COUNTY—The County Health Rankings, a national study released recently, show once again that Kane County residents are some of the healthiest in the state, but they also highlight areas that need to be addressed in order to achieve the Kane County Health Department’s 2030 vision of having the healthiest residents in Illinois. Kane ranked ninth out of 102 Illinois counties in health outcomes, an improvement from 11th last year.

“We are happy that we’re moving in the right direction,” Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert said. “We can see with this study that where we live, learn, work and play influences how healthy we are and how long we live. So much of what influences our health happens outside of the doctor’s office.”

The study shows Kane County dropping to 41st in health factors, a decline from 19th last year. That portion of the study highlights areas that need improvement in order to achieve better health outcomes. Below are some areas to be addressed:
• Adult smoking—17 percent in Kane County; national benchmark: 15 percent
• Adult obesity—28 percent in Kane County; national benchmark: 25 percent
• Teen birth rate—46 per 1,000 female population between 13 and 19 years; national benchmark: 22 per thousand of that population.

“Smoking and obesity tie directly into chronic disease, while a high teen birth rate will tie into infant mortality disparities. We must continue to work as a community to attend to these health factors and make progress in order to move toward having the healthiest residents in Illinois,” Kuehnert said. “We are fortunate that so many Kane community members and leaders—from parents to faith leaders to elected officials at all levels—are working in active health partnerships, like ‘Making Kane County Fit for Kids,’ the Kane County Perinatal Committee, and the Aurora and Elgin ‘Circles of Wise Women’ to address these health issues in Kane.”

The County Health Rankings Report also identifies key measures of social and economic impact on health, as well as the environment. Key measures include:
• Unemployment, which was 10.3 percent at the time of the study in Kane, compared to 5.3 percent in the national comparison counties.
• College education, which was 59 percent in Kane, compared to 64 percent in the national comparison counties.
• Uninsured, which was 19 percent in Kane, compared to 13 percent nationally.
• Air quality improved from last year, with Kane seeing two air pollution particulate matter days, a decline from four last year, and no ozone action days this year, compared to nine last year.
• Access to healthy foods also showed an improvement, with 75 percent of the ZIP codes having access this year, compared to 43 percent last year.

The Health Department will use the results of this study as it conducts its Community Health Assessment, which currently is in its initial stages. The five-year update of the Kane’s Community Health Assessment and Community Health Action Plan will be completed by the end of 2011. Working with its partners, the Health Department will use the data in the County Health Rankings report, a comprehensive community health risk behavior survey, data from other surveys, and sources such as the 2010 Census, as well as focus groups and a series of community meetings to develop an updated blueprint for improving the health of Kane County residents over the next five years.

Kane County started to address some of the significant issues raised in the health rankings long before the first rankings were issued last year. Based on the recommendations of the County’s Regional Planning Commission and at the direction of the County Board, the county’s staff in Development and Community Services, Health and Transportation, have begun updating the 2030 Land Resource Management Plan to a new 2040 Plan. The Making Kane County Fit for Kids initiative, with its goal of promoting active living and access to fresh foods, released its Fit Kids’ 2020 Plan in January. The Fit Kids 2020 plan focuses on sector specific issues that each community can address to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity and will be integrated into the 2040 Land Resource Management Plan.

The second-annual study, commissioned and paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Institute, ranks each county in a state in Health Outcomes and Health Factors. Health Outcomes were measured by length and quality of life. Health Factors include clinical care, health behaviors, social and economic factors and physical environment. In simple terms, health outcomes can be described as a snapshot of our resident’s current health, and health factors can be seen as a potential picture of their health in the future.

To find more information about the County Health Rankings, including accessing the full report, visit www.kanehealth.com.

Livingwell announces ‘Laughter to Manage Pain & Stress’

Geneva—On Friday, April 15, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., certified Laughter Yoga Leader Terri Reasoner will present this fun form of exercise in the main lobby of Joliet Oncology and Hematology Associates, 2614 W. Jefferson St., Joliet. Learn to reduce your stress while you let your inner giggles shine.

Invest an hour in your health by learning fun techniques guaranteed to make you smile and laugh. Laughter can cure tensions, anxieties, worries; boost the immune system, dulls pain, elevates mood, and lessen many physical and emotional stresses.

This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required at (630) 262-1111.

LivingWell is a provider of non-medical support at no cost for people living with cancer.

Batavia Mothers Club Foundation hosts annual 5K

Batavia—The Batavia Mothers Club Foundation will host its annual Fox Trot 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, April 16, at the Batavia Riverwalk (Island Avenue and Houston Street in downtown Batavia).

The 2011 CARA-recommended-certified race features a scenic course along the Fox River in downtown Batavia. Participants can register online at www.signmeup.com/74038 or at the event on race day.

The start time for the 5K run is 8 a.m. with the non-competitive walk starting at 8:05 a.m. There are awards for the winners of the run in all age groups following the race.

The Fox Trot also features non-competitive kids fun runs. Preschoolers are encouraged to try the Tot Trot, approximately 50 yards. There will also be a Junior Jog (approximately one mile) for grades K-2 and a Youth Run/Walk (one-half mile) for grades 5 and under. The kids events begin at approximately 9:15 a.m. Fun Run registration is available online and will be held until 8:45 a.m. at the event.

Pre-registration is encouraged. The cost is $25 per adult ($30 after April 13) and $8 per child ($10 after April 13). There is a $3 CARA member discount available only through pre-registration. Funds raised through this event will support Batavia Public Schools and other educational opportunities for local families. Participants receive a T-shirt and goodie bag.

Visit www.bataviamothersclub.org for more information.

TriCity Family Services Annual Benefit, Auction

St. Charles—TriCity Family Services will host its 22nd Annual Benefit and Auction on Saturday, April 9, at the Hilton Garden Inn in St. Charles. The theme for this year’s event is “A Blooming Affair … Growing Healthy Families,” and it will feature extensive silent and live auctions, a split-the-pot raffle, diamond raffle and dinner and entertainment provided by the Mary Hunt Duo.

The Hilton Garden Inn St. Charles is located at 4070 E. Main St, St. Charles, IL 60174.

Cocktail hour begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. Cocktail attire is required.

Tickets are $75 each. Tables of 8 persons can be purchased for $600. All proceeds benefit TriCity Family Services, a local leader in community-based counseling and supportive services for those in need.

Make your reservation online at www.tricityfamilyservices.org or call the TriCity Family Services offices at (630) 232-1070.

The agency is accepting items for the silent and live auctions. They are also accepting advertisers for the event program book. The donation packet is available on the website. Contact Hallie Hudson, Development Associate, at (630) 232-1070 or hhudson@tricityfamilyservices.org for more information.

State provides new info to help make better decisions about health care providers

Springfield—Illinoisans are now able to find more information that can help them decide where to go for medical care. Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold recently announced several updates to the Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care Web site, including new information about hospital acquired infection prevention and control, staffing and rates of newborn breastfeeding in hospitals.

“It is vital that consumers have a solid understanding about the quality of health care they will receive at a hospital or health care provider. If consumers are informed, they will be able to ask questions of their health care providers to receive the best health care possible,” said Dr. Arnold. “The Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care Web site allows Illinoisans to find average costs for specific medical procedures, nurse staffing levels at hospitals and general quality of care information.”

The Hospital Report Card Act requires all Illinois hospitals to report nurse staffing, infection prevention measures and hospital acquired infections data to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Consumer Guide to Health Care contains information from hospitals and ambulatory surgical treatment centers about conditions and procedures and shows variation in charges and quality of care. The website includes inpatient and outpatient data with current comparison information related to volume of cases, average charges, mortality rates, complications and hospital associated infections.

The latest additions made to the website include data from 2010 in the following areas:
new infection control staffing data and new breastfeeding data.

The Infection Control Staffing measures now available on the website show the number of infection prevention and control staff for every 100 authorized hospital beds. Healthcare associated infections are becoming an increasingly important focus for quality improvement initiatives. All hospitals in Illinois are required to have an infection prevention and control program. Infection prevention programs and staff are essential in reducing the number of infections acquired during a hospital stay and providing expertise in disease transmission and prevention. These new data supplement the information on central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) already provided on the report card.

The report card also now features the percentage of newborn infants who are breastfeeding upon discharge from the hospital. Breast milk contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections, and breastfed infants are at lower risk of certain chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity and asthma. Research shows that women who breastfeed may also have lower risk of some health problems, including certain breast and ovarian cancers, obesity and diabetes. IDPH encourages consumers to ask their hospital if they have a specially trained breast feeding consultant or if their maternal/child nursing staff is trained to offer help with breast feeding.

In addition, the website now includes a link to a preliminary release of the new Illinois Public Health Map. The Illinois Public Health Map feature provides the public with information about the quality of health and health care in communities, and highlights socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities that may exist.

The site also offers hospitals and surgical treatment centers the opportunity to identify quality and safety improvements by comparing information with other facilities. The site will continue to be routinely updated with the most recent data available.

Orthopedic advancements at Delnor

GENEVA—Imagine repairing a hip through a few small surgical incisions, or using a patient’s owned cleansed blood cells to heal damaged tissue. These orthopedic advancements have become a reality and are being performed at Delnor Hospital in Geneva by Vishal Mehta, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at the hospital. Dr. Mehta is one a handful of surgeons in the Central Fox Valley performing these state-of-the-art procedures.

“Over the past seven to 10 years, we have experienced significant advances in the field of orthopedic surgery. The procedures I perform today on my patients are life changing,” Mehta said. “Revolutionary orthopedic procedures that are now available at Delnor include arthroscopy of the shoulder, knee and hip; shoulder and reverse shoulder replacement; cartilage transplantation and platelet rich plasma treatments.”

Keeping the Joints Moving
Arthroscopic technology has allowed orthopedic surgeons to perform surgery without having to make large incisions, a once common practice.

“When athletes and non-athletes of all ages require surgery, there are many new procedures to help them regain mobility and strength with a quicker recovery time,” Mehta said.

Some advanced arthroscopic procedures include hip arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to treat conditions initially only operable by traditional open surgery.

This procedure is performed using two or three small surgical incisions and allows the patient to resume their active lifestyle in a shorter period of time. Hip arthroscopy is done on an outpatient basis and corrects tears or bone impingement in the hip. Other revolutionary procedures include total shoulder replacement, where the joint surfaces are replaced with a plastic socket attached to the shoulder bone and a metal ball with a stem attached to the upper arm; and reverse total shoulder replacements, where the socket and metal ball are switched.

“Shoulder replacement surgery is an option for treatment of severe arthritis of the shoulder joint. As the cartilage lining wears away, the protective lining between the bones is lost. When this happens, painful bone-on-bone arthritis develops. Most people get the replacement only when they can no longer tolerate the pain,” Mehta said.

Reverse shoulder replacements can be used to treat the arthritis that accompanies irreparable rotator cuff tears where previously there was no good solution. This generally requires only one or two days in the hospital. A rehabilitation plan also follows, generally for about 10 to 12 weeks.

To really understand the benefits of such advancements in orthopedic surgery, ask Elgin resident Delores Gammon. Delores, a self-described average but avid golfer, underwent two total shoulder replacements: the first in November of 2009 on her left shoulder, and then again in October 2010 on her right shoulder.

“I was experiencing very little mobility and lost a lot of range of motion due to advanced arthritis. I was having trouble lifting my arm, reaching a shelf, and most importantly, swinging my golf club,” she said.

Her experience with Mehta and Delnor was positive and she was impressed from the beginning.

“I was comfortable with Dr. Mehta; he explained everything to me in detail, what I could expect with the surgery and rehabilitation,” she said.

When Delores began experiencing extreme pain in her left shoulder, she scheduled an appointment with Mehta. After a second opinion with a physician at a university teaching hospital in Chicago, she decided Delnor was the way to go.

“I liked being closer to home and knowing I could get the same advanced orthopedic procedure at my local hospital,” she said.

Delores had a two-day hospital stay with both shoulder replacement surgeries, followed by three months of outpatient rehabilitation. Both shoulder surgeries were successful, and Delores is anxiously waiting for spring to begin golfing again.

“I am really glad Dr. Mehta was my surgeon and that I had my surgeries at Delnor. I could not have had better care. Now I am anxious to get back on the golf course; with my two new shoulders, I expect to be the most improved golfer in our ladies’ league.”

Cutting-Edge Transplants
In addition to surgery, transplants are some of the newest and most advanced ways of treating orthopedic injuries, including those for knee cartilage and the use of platelets in tissue regeneration.

In a cartilage transplant, the meniscus, or shock absorber in the knee, is worn down through injury or general wear, and painful arthritis can result. Tissue is removed from a cadaver—similar to the process of organ donation. That tissue is then surgically inserted into the joint of a person with reduced cartilage, where it can form new cartilage that attaches itself to surrounding bones. Unlike with organ transplants, rejection of the new tissue by the recipient is not a concern.

Another advancement in orthopedics is the use of platelet-rich plasma, in which a patient’s own blood elements are used to stimulate a healing response within a damaged tissue or joint. Blood is comprised of many types of cells (red, white, plasma and platelets). Research has proven that, in addition to helping blood clot, platelets are activated by injured tissues and consequently release growth factors.

“These growth factors stimulate a powerful healing response in the body. By injecting these healing components into injured/damaged tissue, the body’s natural healing capacity is accelerated. This may lead to a more rapid and efficient tissue recovery,” Mehta said.

All of these state-of-the-art procedures are being performed on the avid athlete as well as the average citizen.

“Orthopedic injuries can sideline you temporarily, but new techniques are helping patients get back in the game of life faster than ever,” Mehta said.

Ongoing programs offered for those dealing with cancer

SYCAMORE—The following events are held at the Kishwaukee Community Hospital Cancer Center. For more information, call (815) 748-2958 or visit www.kishhospital.org/programs.

The Men and Caregivers Networking Breakfast
The Men and Caregivers Networking Breakfast is an opportunity for oncology patients and caregivers to give and receive support and share information. The free group is open to all those with cancer for discussion over breakfast; no registration is required. The group meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, from 9 to 10 a.m. at The Cancer Center at Kishwaukee Community Hospital.

Caring Through Food
Do you or a loved one have cancer? Are you concerned about getting the proper nutrients and maintaining a healthy diet? Join Becky Sisler, registered dietitian, for Caring Through Food, to learn tips, strategies and simple recipes that nourish and care for those with cancer. Caretakers and patients are welcome. The group meets on the second Tuesday of each month from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Cancer Center at Kishwaukee Community Hospital. This group is free, and registration is required.

Women with Cancer Network
Women with Cancer Network is an opportunity for women with similar experiences to give and receive support, and share information. Participants can learn from each other, meet new people, have discussions, and listen to presentations. The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at The Cancer Center at Kishwaukee Community Hospital. The group is free and no registration required.

Cancer center benefit raises $300,000 for charity

Geneva—On Saturday, Feb. 19, Ed and Karen French hosted the 6th Annual Winter Wine Festival, benefiting the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center. The evening not only entertained the guests, but also brought in a record amount of contributions for the charity.

“We are so thrilled at the generosity of our community. This year’s benefit brought in the highest total ever, which reached $300,000,” said LivingWell’s Development Director, Susan Mielke. “Our deepest thanks go to the many people and organizations that have made this possible.”

Highlights of the benefit included champagne and caviar served in Karen French’s boutique-like master closet; a sushi bar by Wok ‘n Fire in the three season’s room, and performances by DMaC, the DePaul Men’s acappella group.

Chef John Riedle of A Private Affair catering organized the cuisine, which included appetizers and desserts from the leading restaurants of the Fox Valley; Sommelier Debra Metzinger coordinated the wine and champagne, poured by top wineries and restaurants; Scott Mackay of 95.9 The River emceed the event with entertaining commentary, while the auctioneer, David Goodman, kept the bidding at a rousing pace throughout the live auction.

“Every year, I am amazed at how our development team, led by Susan Mielke and Jennifer Sommers, and their amazing volunteer committee outdo themselves. We are so thankful to Ed and Karen French, who hosted this magnificent event, and to all of our sponsors, donors and volunteers who supported this event,” said Nancy Vance, executive director of LivingWell. “If it weren’t for the tremendous generosity of our entire community, LivingWell would not be able to grow at the rate that we have over the past five years. We are now able to offer over 50 programs and services, all free of charge, to thousands of cancer survivors and their families.”

LivingWell Cancer Resource Center is the one place in the Fox Valley region where people living with cancer, their families and friends, can go for information and support services that address the challenges of living with cancer free of charge to the participants. LivingWell offers networking and support groups, educational programs, mind-body fitness classes, youth programs, a library, individual psychological and nutritional counseling and much more. LivingWell is located at 1803 W. State St., in Geneva, and online at www.LivingWellCRC.org.

LivingWell presents info on vitamins, supplements, and cancer treatment

GENEVA—Christopher George, MD, of LaGrange Oncology Associates/Delnor Hospital, and Sandra Hunter, Registered Dietician of Delnor Hospital will present “The Truth about Vitamins and Supplements in Cancer Treatment,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, 1803 W. State St. in Geneva.

Dr. George will cut through the conflicting information about vitamins, herbs and other supplements, discuss their safety, and provide an update on what the research shows for the use of these therapies during and after cancer treatment.

“A well-balanced diet is the foundation of good nutrition before, during and after cancer therapy,” Dr. George said. “Still, there can sometimes be a role for vitamin and other dietary supplements as an adjunct to the healthy foods we eat. This talk should help clarify when this is appropriate, as well as explore potential dangers in using supplements indiscriminately.”

Hunter, RD, LDN, MS, will also discuss the functions of nutrients and what may or may not be right for a person to include in their diet during or after cancer treatment.

“Eating healthy during cancer treatment is important for the healing process,” Hunter said. “Your body needs a variety of nutrients to help recover and feel good. While eating nutrient-rich foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains is safe, taking dietary supplements may not offer the same benefits.”

This program is free and open to the public, but registration is required at (630) 262-1111.

Cherished Children: Grief support for parents

GENEVA—Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice is offering Cherished Children, a support group for parents whose child has died, from March 16 to April 27, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the FVVH offices, 200 Whitfield Drive in Geneva.

The group helps parents cope with the sorrow and emptiness in their hearts. Cherished Children provides a safe place where parents who are left to deal with an unimaginable depth of emotions can cry, question, remember and find ways to hold on to cherished memories.

An intake interview is required prior to registration. There is no charge, but registration is required by calling Carol Ann Richeson at (630) 232-2233, ext. 224, by Monday, March 14. Spanish interpretation is available.

National Sleep Awareness Week

GENEVA—It’s a consensus: the majority of American adults don’t get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. And at least 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy.

Join Delnor’s Sleep Disorders Center at its informational booth from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Friday, March 11, at Delnor Health and Wellness Center, 296 Randall Road in Geneva, to learn more information about common sleep disorders.

Delnor’s Sleep Disorders Center and The National Sleep Foundation are waking up the public with an annual public education and awareness campaign during National Sleep Awareness Week to promote the benefits—both to our mental and physical health—of a good night’s sleep.

Tips to improve your sleep
• Maintain a regular schedule for sleep and wake times.
• Establish a regular bedtime routine
• Create a dark, comfortable and quiet sleeping environment
• Use your bedroom only for sleep
• Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillow
• Finish eating at least two to three hours before bedtime
• Exercise regularly
• Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bedtime

National Sleep Awareness Week, which takes place March 7-13, is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. While most people do not give sleep much thought, it is very important that one get enough quality, restorative sleep. Besides affecting things like mood and productivity, a lack of quality sleep is associated with major health concerns. More and more studies have shown the relationship between the quantity and quality of sleep and health problems such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and depression.

Support for those who have lost loved ones

GENEVA—Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice, a nonprofit organization offering support for those with life-threatening illnesses and the bereaved, will offer a series of programs in March for those who have experienced the death of a family member or friend.

Beginning March 2, is Footprints, a program supporting parents and adult family members who are coping with a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or newborn death. The group meets for six weeks, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the FVVH offices in Geneva. An intake interview is required before registration.

Light Finders, a support group for survivors of suicide loss, begins March 7. This group provides a safe environment to talk openly, and is a place to share experiences with others who understand this loss. Light Finders meets Mondays for six weeks, from 6:30 to 8 pm., at the FVVH offices in Geneva. An intake interview is required before registration.

Next Step, a drop-in support group for those who have lost a spouse or significant other, meets March 10 and the second Thursday of each month. Participants will develop skills that will assist them in adapting to the life changes they are experiencing. March’s topic is “Traveling Alone.” See www.fvvh.org for all 2011 topics. This support group meets at 7 p.m. at FVVH offices in Geneva.

For men who’ve experienced the loss of loved one, M.A.L.E.S. (Men After Loss Expressing themselves Safely), meets March 12 and the second Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. at the FVVH offices in Geneva. M.A.L.E.S. provides an opportunity for men to freely express their thoughts and feelings with other men. Coffee and donuts provided.

For families with children ages 5 to 18 who have experienced a death loss, Herbie’s Friends is a program where participants can share their thoughts, feelings and stories. They will enjoy a meal together followed by activities led by trained facilitators. The group meets Mondays, March 14 to April 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin, 39W830 Highland Ave., Elgin.

Pathways, a seven-week program addressing the issues faced by those who have lost a life partner, begins March 16. Emotional support is offered as well as assistance with accepting the death and dealing with grief. The group meets from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at FVVH offices in Geneva.

Also beginning on March 16, Cherished Children, a support group for parents whose child has died, will help parents cope with the sorrow and emptiness in their hearts. It is a safe place to cry, to question, to remember, and to find ways to hold on to cherished memories. An intake interview is required prior to registration. The group meets for seven weeks, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the FVVH offices in Geneva.

In addition to adult and children’s grief support groups, Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice offers support for those with life-threatening illnesses, medical equipment loans, community education on end-of-life care and grief, and a community lending library. All services are provided free of charge, and Spanish interpretation is available for all programs. The agency supports all of Kane and Kendall counties, and parts of DuPage, Cook and McHenry counties.

FVVH is located at 200 Whitfield Drive in Geneva. All programs are free, but registration is required by calling (630) 232-2233 or e-mail info@fvvh.org. For more information, see www.fvvh.org or call the office.

IEMA encourages families to practice emergency plans

SPRINGFIELD—Some emergencies, like last week’s blizzard, come with advance warning. Others, like a tornado or earthquake, may strike with little or no warning. Having a family emergency plan and periodically practicing that plan can ensure that everyone in your home is prepared whenever disaster strikes.

During February, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging people to practice their emergency plans as part of the agency’s 2011 Preparedness Campaign.

“Last week’s snow storm is just another reminder of the importance of preparedness,” said IEMA Interim Director Joe Klinger. “People should not only have a plan, but also practice that plan so everyone knows exactly what to do to stay safe during an emergency.”

A family emergency plan should include two designated locations where family members will meet if it is impossible to return home or you have to evacuate. One location should be near your home and the other outside your neighborhood. Visit these locations so family members are familiar with them.

The plan should also designate an out-of-area contact person family members can call to report their locations if they cannot reach each other. The contact should be far enough away that it is unlikely he or she would be affected by the same emergency. Ensure that each family member has the contact phone number programmed into their cell phones or on a card in their wallet or bag.

It is also important to identify at least two separate escape routes from your home and practice using them. In addition, everyone in the home should know where the gas main and other utilities are located and how to operate them.

Additional preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

“Fit Kids 2020” outlines strategies to reduce childhood obesity

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department announced the release of “Fit Kids 2020 Plan,” a 51-page document that outlines the strategies required to reverse childhood obesity in Kane County over the next decade.

This document is the result of the work of more than 80 community members who worked over a period of six months, contributing more than 1,000 hours of volunteer time in nine sector-specific workgroups to develop the plan.

In Kane County, one in five kids is overweight, and in some communities that number is an alarming one in three kids. As these kids get older, they are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, suffer bone and joint problems, and suffer other serious health problems.

“We are recommending that all agencies and groups throughout Kane County adopt the relevant strategies outlined in this plan and adjust them to fit their needs so that we can work together to reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity,” said Health Executive Director Paul Kuehnert.

“Fit Kids 2020” was developed by parents, physicians, engineers, educators, planners, public health professionals, transportation ex-perts, faith leaders, local policy makers and many more. “Fit Kids 2020” provides the framework to make the systems, environmental and policy changes needed to accomplish the goal by 2020.

“Fit Kids 2020” is made possible by the Making Kane County Fit For Kids Funders Consortium: The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, United Way of Elgin, the Kane Forest Preserve District, the Kane County Office of Regional Education and Kane County.

The “Fit Kids 2020” plan is available for download on the Making Kane County Fit For Kids Web site at www.makingkanefitforkids.org.

The plan
According to the plan, the Make Kane County For Kids strategies can be boiled down to 18 key points:

Local government can:
• Preserve green space and land for farming
• Develop community plans to
promote walking and biking
• Build infrastructure, such as sidewalks and
streets, that make it easier to walk and bike
• Set aside space for community gardens

Employers can:

• Offer programs and health benefits to
promote physical activity and better eating
• Adopt healthy food policies for
food served at meetings
• Provide Opportunities to be physically
active during the work day
Schools can:
• Achieve Gold Award Distinction for
Healthier U.S. School Challenge
• Promote walking and biking
• Build more physical activity
into each student’s day

Faith-based organizations can:
• Offer healthy foods at all community events
• Plant or sponsor a garden
• Take steps to make healthy food available
to those in need
• Create a health and wellness committee

Families can:
• Plant a garden
• Walk your child to school
• Play outside with your children
and grandchildren
• Take action in your community
to promote health

Take bullying seriously

by Lynn Meredith
ELBURN—This month’s community event, sponsored by the Elburn Lions Club on Jan. 26, featured counselors from The Center for Rural Psychology in Elburn who spoke on the subject of bullying. Lion’s member Chris Halsey put the issue in perspective when he told the audience about his days in the wooden school house in Elburn.

“We hit and got hit,” Halsey said. “We took the hits; we had to defend ourselves.”

Graduate intern Andrea Saul and Dr. Michael Mangus deal with bullying quite frequently in their offices when they counsel parents and children.

“It’s an evolving concept,” Saul said. “It’s not something new, but how we understand it has changed quite a lot.”

Bullying peaks in middle school, but it doesn’t begin or end there. Surveys suggest that 100,000 to 200,000 kids miss school each year due to bullying. Kids who are bullied often experience depression and low self-esteem.

The misperception remains that the kids who are least socially skilled are the ones being bullied, but in fact that’s not the case. Any child can be bullied, even someone who is popular and well-liked. Also, the abuse may not be physical, although physical aggression is one form of bullying. It can be verbal as in name-calling, relational as in spreading rumors and saying mean words or excluding a child, or cyber as in making unwanted remarks about other kids online.

“The critical role in preventing bullying is the bystander,” Saul said. “We know how to dramatically reduce bullying. One kid can simply say, ‘Stop it.’ This is what we want to happen in our community.”

It’s critical to teach kids to be assertive and not just ignore the bully. They need to learn not to be aggressive back but instead look the bully in the eye and them to stop.

Another solution is to create an atmosphere in the schools where everyone can get excited about the same goals of reducing bullying. Students should be praised for standing up to bullies and be made to feel proud for doing so.

“Kids don’t accidentally know how to handle these situations,” Saul said.

Zero tolerance, blaming the victim, and rushing to solve the situation as the adults in charge are not effective solutions. Asking a child what they did to get themselves bullied is not a good question, nor is it a good idea to confront either the bully or their parents alone. Instead, involve the kids in the solution and ask what they think would be helpful or what would make matters worse.

For parents trying to sort out whether their child was bullied or whether it was just normal peer conflict, they can ask a first question like, “Tell me what happened,” or “What part did you play in the conflict?” The parent can strengthen the child by finding places where that child can shine, like a hobby at home or involvement at a church youth group.

Bullying is not the same as teasing. Bullying is when teasing starts to go from fun to getting feelings hurt, and the bully doesn’t back off. Bullies can see that the other child is getting upset and continues with the behavior.

For kids who feel threatened by bullies, Saul and Mangus’ advice is to not stop telling adults until someone takes it seriously. Also, kids who are bullied during recess or on the bus should try to be near the adults in charge and friends they know will support them. Another way is to find unique ways to put the bully off-guard.

“What if next time a bully calls you names, you come up with a list of even funnier names. You can start laughing at the bully that he couldn’t come up with a better name,” Mangus said.

For more information and resources about bullying, visit bullying.org.

Friendship connection helps kids connect with others

MAPLE PARK—Do you know someone who could benefit from a social skills group? Blazing Prairie Stars, a therapy barn in Maple Park, is offering a Friendship Connection program to give a leg-up to children who struggle in their relationships with others. There are currently openings for new children.

Friendship skills can be learned through practice and reinforcement, and the Friendship Connection groups do just that. An array of activities and games with horses have been designed by the therapy staff and the horse professionals at Blazing Prairie Stars. These activities create learning opportunities that focus on skills such as listening, following directions, empathy and dealing with frustration.

Being able to develop and maintain positive relationships with family, peers and trustworthy adults is a strong predictor of a child’s future success. In addition, friends are a vital part of a full and satisfying life. Friendship Connection helps show children the skills needed to be a friend, make a friend and keep a friend.

Friendship Connection participants are grouped by age, gender and skill level. Sessions are facilitated by a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist/LCPC and a certified horse professional. Children attend a minimum of eight sessions.

The program is open to children from ages 6 to 15 and is now accepting applications. For more information, call Blazing Prairie Stars at (630) 365-5550. Financial assistance may be available for those who qualify.

IDNR reminds snowmobile operators to be cautious this winter

SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is reminding snowmobile operators and riders to take extra caution this year as the snow begins to fall in Illinois. Every year throughout the state, people are seriously injured or lose their lives on snowmobiles. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had proper precautions been taken and common sense been used.

Last season in Illinois, 37 reported snowmobile accidents resulted in one fatality.

“Snowmobiling, if done with safety and precaution in mind, can be fun and enjoyable, but when proper precautions aren’t taken people can find themselves in bad situations,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “The IDNR encourages operators to take a snowmobile safety course, always know the terrain in advance of your ride and never consume alcohol before or during your trip.”

In most instances, being alert, knowing the trail and traveling at a reasonable rate of speed for trail conditions can prevent most accidents. In North America, more than 50 percent of snowmobile fatalities involve intoxicated operators.

While IDNR encourages everyone to take a snowmobile safety class before their first ride of the season, state law requires that persons between 12 and 16 years of age must have in possession a valid Snowmobile Safety Education Certificate of Competency issued by IDNR in order to operate a snowmobile alone.

For snowmobile safety information or a list of upcoming snowmobile classes, see www.dnr.state.il.us/safety/snowmobile.htm.

Current snowmobile safety education courses require students attend an eight-hour class where certified instructors teach basic safety principles, maintenance, operation, winter survival, regulations and a proper attitude of respect for the student’s fellow person and the environment.

Basic safety tips for safe snowmobiling:
• Know your equipment and make sure that equipment is in proper working order.
• Wear sensible, protective clothing designed for snowmobiling like a full-size helmet, goggles, or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice chips, and flying debris.
• Avoid wearing long scarves. They may get caught in moving parts of the snowmobile.
• Know the terrain you are going to ride. If unfamiliar to you, ask someone who has traveled over it before. Be aware of trails or portions of trails that may be closed.
• Drowning is one cause of snowmobile fatalities. When not familiar with the thickness of the ice or water currents, avoid these areas.
• Know the weather forecast and especially the ice and snow conditions in the area.
• Always use the buddy system. Never ride alone or unaccompanied.
• Travel at a reasonable rate of speed for your visibility conditions.

Snowmobile accidents by year:
66 accidents were reported during the 2007-08 season, seven of which were fatal.

39 accidents were reported during the 2008-09 season, three of which were fatal.

37 accidents were reported during the 2009-10 season, one of which was fatal.

Flu activity in Illinois increasing

Not too late to get a flu shot
SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting that flu activity has increased to the “regional level,” meaning that many regions in Illinois are reporting recent laboratory-confirmed influenza. The most recent surveillance data shows an increase in influenza activity in Illinois, but the flu is not yet widespread.

“Although each influenza season is unpredictable, we typically see the peak in January and February,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “It is not too late to get a flu shot. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, and those around you, from getting influenza and potentially becoming sick for a week or longer.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting an ample supply of influenza vaccine nationwide. The flu vaccine is available at many locations throughout Illinois, including local health departments, doctor’s offices, pharmacies and health clinics.

Both the IDPH and the CDC recommend everyone 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine. People at high risk of serious influenza complications, including young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease; and people 65 years and older, should make getting vaccinated a priority.

Flu symptoms can include:
• fever (usually high)
• headache
• extreme tiredness
• dry cough
• sore throat
• runny or stuffy nose
• muscle aches

Although stomach illness, such as vomiting and diarrhea can occur, it is not typical of influenza. Stomach illness is usually the result of a gastrointestinal illness such as norovirus or food poisoning.

Washing your hands is another important step you can take to avoid getting influenza or other viruses, like norovirus. Wash your hands with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and clean water are not available, use an alcohol-based product.

To reduce the spread of influenza, it is also important to practice the “3 C’s”:
• Clean—properly wash your
hands frequently
• Cover—cover your cough and sneeze
• Contain—contain your germs by staying home if you are sick

For more information, visit www.idph.state .il.us/flu/index.htm