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Board of Health adopts Community Health Improvement Plan

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Kane County—The Kane County Board of Health Tuesday adopted the Kane County 2012-2016 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), a comprehensive set of policy and program recommendations for our community.

It identifies areas where the public can have the largest impact on improving the quality of life for all Kane residents—particularly the most vulnerable residents of our community—by reducing preventable sickness and death.

Two versions of the plan (one with and one without appendices), a comprehensive data book and an executive summary are available for viewing at www.kanehealth.com/chip.htm

“There are many factors that affect our health and have a tremendous influence on health outcomes,” said Kane County Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert. “The physical environment, social and economic factors, and clinical care all play a role in an individual’s health and are all incorporated into the plan.”

The CHIP was developed based on the results of the Community Health Assessment. Throughout 2011, the Health Department, in partnership with the five hospitals in the county, the Fox Valley United Way, the United Way of Elgin, and the INC Board, jointly funded and led the collection of social, economic, health and other data to better understand the health of our community. For the first time, more than 1,500 adults were surveyed about their health. The survey also asked 420 adults about the health of a child in their home. The assessment also included a number of public meetings and focus groups to gather input directly from residents. All of the data and information collected through the assessment is included in the plan.

The assessment led to the identification of six top threats to community health across Kane County. The threats are 1.) Obesity, 2.) Chronic Diseases, 3.) Infant Mortality, 4.) Childhood Lead Poisoning, 5.) Communicable Disease, 6.) Poor Social & Emotional Wellness. The Plan recommends a focus on four priority areas and 16 evidence-based strategies to address these top health issues over the next five years. The Plan establishes a framework for community organizations, employers, municipalities, schools, residents and others to work towards improving the health of our communities.

The CHIP aligns with the County’s update to the 2040 Plan which recognizes and emphasizes the connection between the most important resource in Kane County – its people – with the opportunities and barriers for healthy living created by the built and natural environment, and how together they shape the overall health of communities. The 2040 Plan will be the first Kane County Plan to integrate planning for community health with land use and transportation issues. This new approach was formalized by the Kane County Board in October 2010 through the adoption of the 2040 Conceptual Land Use Strategy Report.

Parents matter

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Learn how to protect your children, attend drug prevention event
Kane County—The problem of heroin use and addiction in the Chicago area has gotten national attention with a record multi-million dollar seizure of heroin occurring just one year ago in Elgin. Kane County has also been spotlighted in national news stories dealing with the issue of synthetic marijuana use. Law enforcement and medical professionals are also concerned about the increased illegal use of prescription drug by our youth’s today.

These drug topics are relatively new, but no less important than talking to your kids about the use of alcohol. Many parents do not understand the scope of the problem or how to talk to their kids about it. Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez and Undersheriff David Wagner, along with Lea Minalga from Hearts of Hope, a parental support group based in Geneva, and other community members will present the “Parents You Matter” education program. This program brings together a wide range of presenters, from law enforcement, prevention and treatment professionals to educators and healthcare professionals, and is designed to help parents understand, prevent and address drug and alcohol issues.

This event will be held at the Christ Community Church located at the intersection of Randall and Bolcum roads in St. Charles on Monday, April 16, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Parents do not need to RSVP. According to Perez, parents owe it to themselves—and more importantly to their children—to invest a few hours of their time to help educate themselves on this very real problem that is happening in neighborhoods all across Kane County.

This event is a separate event than the Kane County Drug Court program that has been covered recently. The fact that there are so many educational events underscores just how important this topic is and the need for parents to become educated on the topic of heroin addiction. This event offers yet another opportunity for parents to invest in their kid’s future.

Substance Abuse Prevention Forum 2012

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ST.CHARLES—Kane County’s Juvenile Drug Court program recognizes the growing concerns related to substance abuse and the difficulties individuals and families have accessing community resources. For that reason, the Juvenile Drug Court will sponsor the “Substance Abuse Prevention Forum 2012” on Wednesday, April 11, 7 to 9 p.m. at the St. Charles East High School’s Norris Cultural Center, 1020 Dunham Road in St. Charles.

This forum will bring together parents who have lost their children to substance abuse, substance abusers, recovering addicts, law enforcement agencies, substance abuse providers, and other community resources to provide individuals and families an opportunity to ask questions and educate themselves about the growing epidemic of substance abuse.

There will be no cost to attend the forum. Contact Juvenile Drug Court Coordinator Diana Uchiyama at (630) 444-3173 if you have any questions or need further information. A forum brochure with information is also attached for your use.

Health Department recognizes National Public Health Week

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SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) joins communities nationwide recognizing National Public Health Week, April 2-8, to raise awareness about the importance of prevention and wellness through this year’s theme, “A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement.”

“Everyone has a role to play in creating healthier communities, and this year’s theme encourages all of us to start now in taking active, strategic steps to get healthy and stay healthy,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Arthur Kohrman. “Little steps can lead to big changes.”

The first full week of April has been observed as National Public Health Week (NPHW) since 1995, allowing communities nationwide to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving the public’s health.

With nearly 1 million Americans dying every year from diseases that could be prevented, National Public Health Week will highlight five daily themes:

• Active Living and Healthy Eating—Promote healthy choices in your communities, such as bike lanes and farmer’s markets.

• Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs—Identify alcohol and drug-use disorders early to reduce high-risk alcohol and drug consumption.

• Communicable Diseases—Encourage proper hand-washing and food preparation habits.

• Reproductive and Sexual Health—Practice safe sex, encourage responsible contraception behavior and promote access to preventive health services.

• Mental and Emotional Well-Being—Refer people with signs of depression and suicidal thinking to appropriate resources and help centers.

Find the Health Department on Facebook at Facebook.com/IDPH.Illinois or follow them on Twitter @IDPH.

During National Public Health Week, which also intersects with National Minority Health Month observed every April, the IDPH Center for Minority Health Services will also host its first-ever Minority Health Conference, April 4-5, in Naperville. The Minority Health Conference will examine health disparities impacting communities of color in Illinois and work on proactive, preventative solutions for better health outcomes.

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Photo: Sarah Stark (left to right), Hanah Ritter, Kathy Morrison, Marisol Ward, Melissa Palmer, Monika Darfler, Jeff Wong, Judge Linda Abrahamson, Craig Koster. Manish Patel, Sarah Baxa, Leanne Gramley, Fernanda Hamlin, Debbie Mirandi, Charles Domagalski, Michele DuVair and Denise Crosby. (Not pictured: Sally Wiggins and Jean Woodhouse). Courtesy Photo

KANE COUNTY—Judge Linda Abrahamson presided over the swearing in of 16 new Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers. These individuals completed a 40-hour training program in order to represent the best interests of children who have an open case in Juvenile Court due to abuse or neglect.
If you would like to become an advocate for children, call the CASA Kane County office at (630) 232-4484, or visit www.casakanecounty.orgto view a schedule of upcoming volunteer information meetings in March and April. Training will begin again in May.

State recognizes local communities for maintaining fluoride levels

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SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), last week presented fluoridation awards to 432 community water systems—including Elburn and Sugar Grove—for maintaining state mandated fluoride levels every month in 2011. In addition, the village of Maple Park joined another list of honorable mentions for maintaining the mandated levels for 11 of the 12 months.

The awards were presented at a ceremony held last Wednesday during the 2012 Illinois Section American Water Works Association Conference and Expo at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield.

“Water fluoridation can improve overall oral health for both children and adults, and studies show water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by about 25 percent over a person’s lifetime,” said Dr. David Miller, IDPH Division of Oral Health Chief. “We applaud those communities that maintain levels of fluoride in their water systems and encourage them to continue their efforts.”

Of those recognized: 81 systems earned a commendation for meeting state recommended fluoride levels of 0.9 to 1.2 parts per million for at least five consecutive years; 47 for at least 10 years; 79 for at least 15 years; 16 for at least 20 years, 8 for at least 25 years, and 1 for at least 30 years. Another 122 communities received honorable mentions for meeting state fluoride levels 11 of 12 months in 2011.

“Maintaining optimum fluoride levels provides an important benefit for the public. The Illinois EPA congratulates these water supply operators for all their efforts to diligently ensure fluoride levels to their respective communities,” IEPA Interim Director John J. Kim said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long acknowledged the public benefits of fluoridation of water systems. In fact, drinking fluoridated water from birth can reduce tooth decay by 40 to 65 percent. In Illinois, communities have practiced water fluoridation for more than 60 years, and fluoride continues to prove beneficial in the battle against tooth decay.

Approximately 99 percent Illinois residents served by public water systems receive the benefit of fluoridated drinking water, compared to the current national average of approximately 72 percent. Fluoride is found naturally in water, but in many communities the amount of the mineral is too low and does not meet the required standards.

Water operators will add fluoride to fulfill optimal health benefits to the communities. Of the 1,789 water supplies in Illinois, 831 systems adjust fluoride levels and another 785 have either adequate, natural fluoride or are connected to an adjusted system.

Health Department receives grant to support Planning Cooperative

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department was awarded a $40,000 grant from the American Public Health Association (APHA) that will be used to further integrate a health component into Kane County’s comprehensive land-use strategies. The grant funds will be used to address the issue of chronic diseases—one of the six major health risks facing Kane County residents identified in the Community Health Improvement Plan—through the recently established Kane County Planning Cooperative.

Kane County was one of six Health Departments chosen from a competitive, nationwide field of more than 121 applicants. The project will accelerate implementation of the Kane County 2040 Master Plan and, in particular, six high priority policy recommendations. This will be done through an innovative policy implementation initiative—the Kane County Planning Cooperative—that will 1) engage and educate policymakers, planning and development staff, and members of the public in Kane County regarding the 2040 Master Plan, and 2) provide resources and technical assistance to municipalities and other public and civic organizations in Kane to adopt and implement one or more of the six high-priority policies.

“We are honored to have been chosen to receive this award,” said Paul Kuehnert, executive director of the Kane County Health Department. “Our innovative policy implementation initiative—the Kane County Planning Cooperative—will engage and educate policymakers, planning and development staff, and members of the public in Kane County regarding the integrated health, transportation and land use policies in Kane’s 2040 Master Plan.”

When the 2040 Master Plan is adopted by the County Board this spring, it will guide policy decisions for the next five to eight years (through completion of the next update cycle).The plan is also intended to guide land use and transportation decisions made by other public and civic organizations—municipalities, school districts, libraries, hospitals, the forest preserve and park districts—throughout the county. Most critical are the 30 municipalities within Kane that have policy jurisdiction over nearly 90 percent of the physical space of the county. Alignment of municipal comprehensive plans, as well as the plans and policies of other Kane public and civic organizations, with the 2040 Master Plan is critical if we are to realize the population health improvements we seek.

The Kane County Planning Cooperative will be staffed by planners from three Kane departments—Development, Health and Transportation. The cooperative will address the gaps that currently exists because of reduction (or elimination) of planning staff among municipal and other public and civic partners.

The 2040 Master Plan is now in its final stages of development and is in a public comment period. County Board adoption is anticipated in the spring. The following six high-priority policy recommendations are incorporated into the 2040 Plan:

• Developing municipal bike- and walk-ability plans
• Establishing/expanding Community gardens
• Expanding smoke-free campuses
• Expanding safe routes to school plans to all nine school districts
• Achieving USDA Healthier US School Challenge standards in all nine school districts
• Instituting comprehensive, evidenced-based workplace wellness policies

Widespread implementation of the six policies will have a positive, measurable population health impact, decrease chronic disease burden and reduce health disparities in Kane County. To view a draft of the 2040 Plan please visit www.countyofkane.org.

Local, state emergency management officials launch weather alert radio contest

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SPRINGFIELD—Local and state emergency management officials this week launched a statewide contest aimed at increasing awareness and use of weather alert radios. The Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are sponsoring the “Weather Alert Radios Save Lives” contest, in which participants will complete an online quiz for a chance to win a weather alert radio.

The contest will be highlighted throughout March, which is Severe Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois.

“2011 was one of the worst years for tornado deaths in the U.S. in the past 60 years,” IEMA Director Jonathon Monken said. “Fortunately, Illinois didn’t experience these terrible storms, but we never know when or where the next deadly storm could strike. Weather alert radios are a key tool for alerting people to approaching danger, day or night, and every home should have one.”

The contest is available on the Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov), the IESMA website (www.iesma.org) and on many county and municipal emergency management agency websites. A total of 100 weather alert radios will be awarded to participants who register after reading information about the radios and successfully completing a five-question quiz. The contest runs through March 31. Winners will be announced in April.

“Through this contest, we hope to make people in Illinois more aware of the importance of weather alert radios as part of their personal preparedness kit,” IESMA President Chuck Genesio said. “Much like a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector alerts people to those dangers, weather alert radios warn people of hazards outside the home so they have time to seek shelter or take other actions to stay safe.”

IESMA purchased the weather alert radios in 2010 and 2011 as part of a program to increase emergency preparedness in local schools, hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities and government buildings throughout Illinois. Nearly 7,300 weather alert radios were distributed for placement in these facilities through the program, which was funded with $172,420 in federal homeland security grant funds allocated by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force. The 100 radios distributed as part of the “Weather Alert Radios Save Lives” contest will help Illinois residents better prepare for emergencies.

The National Weather Service (NWS) and state and local emergency management officials strongly encourage people to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards with battery backup, a tone-alert feature and Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) technology, which allows the radio to be programmed to receive alerts for specified counties. When an alert is issued for that area, the device will sound a warning alarm tone followed by the broadcast message.

Besides weather information, the NWS also broadcasts warnings and post-event information for all types of hazards, including natural, environmental and public safety hazards, such as earthquakes, chemical spills and AMBER alerts.

“Tornadoes do not just occur during the day,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. “In Illinois, 30 percent of all tornadoes occur at night when it can be difficult to hear outdoor warning sirens from inside your home, especially if you are asleep. The best way to be warned about tornadoes at night is to have a weather alert radio in your home. It is like having your own personal storm siren.”

IEMA and the NWS developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, which provides information about tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding and recommended actions to take before, during and after each of these weather events. The guide also includes definitions of important weather terms, including watches, warnings and advisories and a list of items needed for a family emergency supply kit. The guide is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or by calling (217) 785-9925.

‘Girls Today … Design Divas Tomorrow’

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KANE COUNTY—Did you know girls are completely aware gender barriers still persist in today’s society? According to a recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 57 percent of girl respondents agree that if they were to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math, they would “have to work harder than a man to be taken seriously.”

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois (GSNI) wants to change statistics like this with “Girls Today … Design Divas Tomorrow” program, where girls discover their inner designer while creating innovative structures. Highlights include dissecting toys, developing prototypes, designing a bubble product, building a catapult and competing to see who can fling a marshmallow the farthest. Participants will also learn electrical secrets by exploring Snap Circuits™ while creating their own electronic board game and light-up bracelet. This program is funded in part by Fox Valley United Way.

The program is March 26–30, from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at GSNI’s Camp Dean in Big Rock. There will be a bus pick-up/drop-off available at Thompson Middle School, 440 Boulder Hill Pass in Oswego.

The program is open to all girls in grades six through eight. There is a $25 fee, with financial assistance available. Fee includes lunches/snacks for each day, as well as all program supplies. There is an additional one-time $12 fee for non-Girl Scouts. This fee registers participants as Girl Scouts, allowing them to participate in this program, as well as many others. Registration deadline for this program is Thursday, March 1. To register, call Pam Schnecke at (847) 741-5521, ext. 7140.

Provena Patient Renovation and Modernization Project

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AURORA—Evidence-based research suggests that appropriate visual art can have a healing effect on patients by reducing anxiety and potentially leading to less medication and shorter hospital stays.

Aurora’s Provena Mercy Medical Center is currently seeking original artwork from Illinois artists for display in the 2012 Patient Renovation and Modernization Project. With half of the patient rooms complete in January 2012, the 90-room renovation project is set for completion in fall of 2012.

Submitted artwork will be reviewed by a selection committee who will choose up to 30 works of art deemed appropriate for a healing environment. The hospital will seek donors to purchase the selected work directly from the artist for donation to the hospital. Artists are asked to submit art valued between $300-$2,500 each. In the event that no donor can be found for a selected piece of art, the artists have the option to donate the piece to Provena Mercy Medical Center, or retain the piece as part of their own collection.

Artists may submit up to five .jpg images of art no larger than two megabytes each they would like considered for this project. Artwork must be unframed and is not to exceed the maximum overall dimensions of 24” wide by 40” high. All entries must be submitted via e-mail to PMMC.ART@provena.org by Thursday, March 15.

Artwork submission forms are available on www.provena.org/mercy/foundation/events or at the Provena Mercy Medical Center Foundation office, located at 1325 North Highland Ave. in the general hospital. For more information, please call (630) 801-2663.

Artists will be notified of selection by April 15. A reception showcasing the purchased art will be held on June 15, for the artists and the donors. The art donations will be displayed with both the artist and the donor’s names listed on the plaque adjacent to it.

Celebrate Illinois Poison Prevention Month in March

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CHICAGO—This year marks the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week (March 18-24); in 2009 Governor Pat Quinn declared March to also be Illinois Poison Prevention Month (IPPM) because of its importance, and encouraged all residents to educate themselves about the potentially dangerous substances in their homes. To learn more about Illinois Poison Prevention Month and how to get involved please visit the Illinois Poison Center’s website www.illinoispoisoncenter.org, for activity suggestions and free materials to distribute to family, friends and the community.

“Poison prevention education is vital to the public’s safety,” said Michael Wahl, MD, managing medical director, IPC. “By using the entire month of March as a means to increase awareness of this serious health issue, we hope to reduce the incidence and injury caused by poisonings.”

Year after year, millions of accidental poisonings occur in America. Poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related adult deaths in the U.S. surpassing firearms and motor vehicle accidents as causes. Nine out of ten poisoning deaths are caused by drugs/medications, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Preparing yourself and your family is the best way to avoid a potential poisoning, according to the Illinois Poison Center experts.

IPC tips to prevent poisonings:
• Store all food and beverages in a completely separate area away from cleaners, medicines, automotive, yard and health care products.
• Keep medicines and household products in their original containers with original labels. Always read labels before using medicines, cleaners and other products
• Teach children to ask first before eating or drinking anything
• Never call medicine candy or make a game out of taking it
• Keep the IPC phone number, 1-800-222-1222, near all phones in the house, and store the number in your cell phone

To celebrate IPPM, this year the IPC will:
• Host a four week Twitter chat series, every Thursday, starting March 8. Participants can follow us on Twitter- @ILPoisonCenter and use hashtag #PoisonCtrChat to join the various topic discussions led by our experts.

• Debut “Meet the IPC Experts” blog series, highlighting the call center experts who answered over 85,000 calls from the general public and health care professionals last year. Join the experience at ipcblog.org starting March 6.
• Provide free poison prevention training and educational materials available to anyone living/working in Illinois at www.IllinoisPoisonCenter.org.

Expansion of Stuart Sports Complex to begin in spring

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MONTGOMERY—In continuing to keep pace with community growth and the accompanying demand for more athletic fields, the Fox Valley Park District will begin expansion of Stuart Sports Complex this spring.

On Monday, the Montgomery Village Board gave final approval for the plan, paving the way for four new ball fields with lights and 11 new soccer fields to be built. The expansion covers 135 acres at the south end between the current park border and Base Line Road (Route 30).

Community leaders worked closely with various consultants and representatives from local athletic organizations to formulate an expansion plan that would best meet the needs of residents.

“This project is a great example of how communities benefit when public agencies collaborate to work together in the best interests of their residents,” said Nancy McCaul, Fox Valley Park District Executive Director. “The intergovernmental cooperation between the Park District and the Village of Montgomery allowed us to develop a plan that will be implemented quickly and create an even better athletic facility for our communities.”

Of the 11 full-size soccer fields, five would be designated as “flex” fields to be used for a variety of activities. Other highlights of the master plan include:
• A permanent restroom and concession structure near the ball fields and associated parking.
• A 280-vehicle parking lot and drop-off aisle to serve the ball fields and soccer at the northeast area of the site.
• A 320-vehicle parking lot and drop-off aisle to serve the eight soccer/flex fields at the southern area of the site.
• Asphalt paths, primarily around the ball fields.
• Native plantings in areas of storm water management/bioswale areas.
• A 15-acre dog park with a 30-vehicle parking lot.

Stuart Sports Complex currently features 25 full-size soccer fields and four baseball diamonds. A master plan for the expansion was developed following a detailed study by Market and Feasibility Advisors (MFA) to ascertain present athletic field demand. In summary, MFA concluded that within the next five years the District’s athletic field demand can support the addition of four flexible baseball/softball fields and up to 14 soccer fields.

“This master plan will allow the district to address this demand in an efficient and safe manner that provides high-quality athletic fields suitable for extensive in-house league play, affiliate use and potential tournaments,” said Jeff Palmquist, director of planning, development and grants.

The inter-governmental agreement will have far-reaching benefits, said Montgomery Village Manager Anne Marie Gaura.

“This is going to be a huge development for the village and our residents and it’s going to be an economic development driver for the whole area out west of Orchard Road,” said Gaura.

The project is a major component to the District’s 2008 Open Space, Park and Recreation Investment (OSPRI) plan that allocates $8.6 million toward the expansion of the Stuart Sports Complex. Bidding for the project is expected in May, with a bulk of construction work to take place this season and completion by 2013. However, athletic field use will not be available until 2014 to allow turf areas time to grow.

Accessing deceased family member medical info now easier

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CHICAGO—Family members who have lost a loved one will now have easier access to the deceased’s medical records under a new Illinois law. Previously, access to medical records was mostly limited to an estate administrator or executor, which many individuals often fail to designate. Under these situations, family members faced difficulty gaining access to medical records.

Through the new law, a spouse can access medical records when an executor or estate administrator has not been designated. If there isn’t a surviving spouse, parents, an adult child or adult siblings can request records. To help patients and physicians, the Illinois State Medical Society has prepared a sample legal form to make available to family members seeking a deceased’s medical records.

“We supported this law and developed a simple resource for doctors to use because we understand the hassle grieving families face when trying to obtain medical records,” said Wayne V. Polek, M.D., ISMS president. “Sometimes when a new law comes about, there is confusion over who it applies to and what is required. Given the sensitivity surrounding a loved one’s death, we want to make sure physicians are aware of the legal change, who can access medical information and provide a tool to help families requesting information.”

The release of the ISMS form comes after the late November implementation of the new medical records law (PA 97-0623). Under the law, the deceased individual’s prior written objection to the release of medical information to family will remain in force after death.

ISMS physician members can access a sample medical records release form at www.isms.org.

Hospice volunteers needed

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FOX VALLEY—Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice (FVVH), a community-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving those with life-threatening illnesses and the bereaved, is in need of volunteers to serve clients in the Fox Valley area. Spanish-speaking volunteers are especially needed. Interested parties must contact FVVH by Feb. 27 to participate in the spring training program.

Patient care volunteers work with hospice patients and their families to help ease the burden, providing companionship and emotional, social and spiritual support. Patient care volunteers are part of a team that includes nurses, social workers, chaplains and bereavement counselors.

FVVH provides an extensive, on-going training program for both patient care and bereavement volunteers, with access to trained professionals always available.

“Volunteers are a vibrant and integral part of FVVH. Our volunteers are out in the community, working with those with life-threatening illnesses and their families, or with the bereaved, following the death of a loved one,” said Elise C. Wall, manager of Volunteer Services for FVVH. “Through training and support, we give our volunteers the tools they need to help their clients, and many continue to work with Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice for years.”

For more information on volunteering for FVVH, contact Elise Wall at (630) 232-2233, ext. 219, or e-mail ewall@fvvh.org, or visit www.fvvh.org.

Draft of Community Health Improvement Plan now online

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KANE COUNTY—The draft of the Community Health Improvement Plan is now available on the Health Department’s website, www.kanehealth.com, and the department is seeking comments and feedback on the plan from the public through the month of February.

The 2012-2016 Kane County Community Health Improvement Plan reflects the understanding that the quality of the communities where we live, work and play is as important to achieving good health as going to the doctor for regular checkups, proper nutrition and adequate physical activity. There are many factors that affect our health and have a tremendous influence on health outcomes. The physical environment, social and economic factors, and clinical care all play a role in an individual’s health and are all incorporated into the plan.

The Community Health Improvement Plan was developed based on the results of the Community Health Assessment. Throughout 2011, the Health Department, in partnership with the five hospitals in the county, the Fox Valley United Way, the United Way of Elgin, and the INC Board, jointly funded and led the collection of social, economic, health and other data to better understand the health of the community. For the first time, over 1,500 adults were surveyed about their health. The survey also asked 420 adults about the health of a child in their home. The assessment also included a number of public meetings and focus groups to gather input directly from residents. All of the data and information collected through the assessment is also included in the plan and is accessible through the website.

“This is truly the community’s plan, designed to be implemented by community agencies, partners, and residents across the county,” said Paul Kuehnert, executive director of the Kane County Health Department. “Working together, we can promote healthy people, healthy living, healthy communities in Kane County and reach our vision of having the healthiest residents in Illinois.”

The assessment led to the identification of six top threats to community health across Kane County. The threats are 1) obesity, 2) chronic diseases, 3) infant mortality, 4) childhood lead poisoning, 5) communicable disease, 6) poor social and emotional wellness. The plan recommends a focus on four priority areas and 16 evidence-based strategies to address these top health issues over the next five years. The plan establishes a framework for community organizations, employers, municipalities, schools, residents and others to work towards improving the health of our communities.

The Community Health Improvement Plan aligns with the county’s update to the 2040 Plan, which recognizes and emphasizes the connection between the most important resource in Kane County—its people—with the opportunities and barriers for healthy living created by the built and natural environment, and how together they shape the overall health of communities. The 2040 Plan will be the first Kane County plan to integrate planning for community health with land use and transportation issues. This new approach was formalized by the Kane County Board in October 2010 through the adoption of the 2040 Conceptual Land Use Strategy Report. Kane County is a nationally recognized leader in the integration of these planning efforts.

Residents are encouraged to review the draft Community Health Improvement Plan and submit comments, questions, and feedback by Wednesday, Feb. 29. These can be submitted by emailing health@kanehealth.com.

NPHIC honored for excellence in public health communication

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ILLINOIS—The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) announced that the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium has been recognized in a national competition honoring excellence in public health communication.

The Consortium won a bronze award in the category Websites and New Media for the development of IllinoisPandemicFlu.org, a robust repository of information on public health crisis communications, working with the media and public during a flu pandemic, incorporating social media into communication plans and helping at-risk populations during a health emergency.

“We are extremely proud that the premier nationwide voice of public health communication has recognized our work,” said Maureen McHugh, consortium president and DuPage County Health Department executive director. “After all, public health is about preventing illness and injury, and that means educating people to help them understand and reduce their individual health risks.”

The site was originally created for public information officers, medical professionals and others who regularly communicate with the public during a public health emergency such as pandemic flu. However, the resource provides valuable health information for the public at-large, including important information about seasonal flu and flu prevention, as well as hundreds of resources from trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization.

Illinois Pandemic Flu was developed through a grant provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Illinois Pandemic Flu can be accessed at www.illinoispandemicflu.org or ilpanflu.org.

“As a recipient of a NPHIC award, your organization has been designated by an independent panel of judges as among the year’s best in public health communication,” stated NPHIC President William Gerrish. “Congratulations on helping NPHIC pursue our mission to ‘make public health public.’”

IEMA sampling results show no measurable radiation increases near Byron Nuclear Power Plant

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SPRINGFIELD—Laboratory analysis of environmental sampling conducted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) earlier this week showed no measurable increases of radiation in the environment as a result of a steam release from the Byron Nuclear Power Plant. The release occurred during an unusual event incident at the plant on Monday, following a loss of off-site power.

“Our laboratory results confirm that the steam release at the Byron Nuclear Power Plant on Monday presented no health hazard for people who live and work in the area,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.

An IEMA environmental monitoring team on Tuesday collected water and vegetation samples that were analyzed for tritium in the agency’s radiochemistry laboratory in Springfield. The testing included water samples from four locations where routine samples were taken on Jan. 11. Results from the samples collected this week were statistically the same for three of the samples.

A fourth sample showed a lower level of tritium in the Jan. 31 sample than the Jan. 11 sample, which had an activity concentration of 519 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). Monken said that level isn’t cause for concern as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) maximum contaminant level for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 pCi/L. Therefore, the measured activity concentration (519 pCi/L) is almost 39 times less than the USEPA maximum contaminant level for tritium in drinking water.

In addition, vegetation samples were collected from four areas. IEMA identified Potassium-40, a naturally occurring radionuclide, in the samples. Potassium-40 levels detected ranged from 3.26 picocuries per gram (pCi/g) to 6.37 pCi/g. Because it is naturally occurring, Potassium-40 can be found in many other items, including bananas. Bananas average approximately 3.5 pCi/g of Potassium-40.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of the element hydrogen that is naturally occurring. It is also produced during the operation of nuclear power plants.

Results from the Jan. 31 sampling near the Byron Nuclear Power Plant and a fact sheet about tritium are available on the IEMA website at www.iema.illinois.gov.

LivingWell Cancer Resource Center introduces ‘Back On Track’ series for cancer survivors

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GENEVA—The LivingWell Cancer Resource Center announces the new lecture series, “Back On Track,” designed for those who have recently completed cancer treatment.

Attendance at all sessions is not required but is encouraged. Sessions will take place every second Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at DuPage Medical Group Oncology, 1020 E. Ogden Ave, Naperville, Ill. Pre-registration is required at (630) 364-7431 or (630) 262-1111.

The topic on Feb. 11 will be “Managing Late Term Treatment-Related Side Effects.” This presentation will review the common late term side effects from your cancer treatment and how they are treated/alleviated, what you should be on the lookout for, when should you call the doctor and which medical professionals will play a role in your survivorship care.

The topic on March 10 will be “The Pressure To Thrive.” This workshop will teach you to better balance family, work, and personal obligations, how to effectively set limits/boundaries and reset your expectations for yourself, and how to find and accept your new normal.

Photos of Illinois Vietnam War heroes still needed

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Washington, D.C.—The people of the state of Illinois suffered among the greatest number of losses in the Vietnam War, sacrificing 2,938 service-men and women in combat. The Vietnam Memorial Fund’s (VVMF) mission to honor these heroes continues with the National Call for Photos, a movement to collect photos of the more than 58,000 service-members inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, D.C. When collected, all photos will be displayed for generations to come at The Education Center at The Wall, a place on the National Mall where military heroes’ stories and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

With the support of schools, volunteers, friends, and family from around the country, VVMF has collected more than 25,000 pictures to date, but only 894 from the state of Illinois.

The task is far from complete. Generous support from volunteers, fellow service-members, family and friends is still needed in order to gather the remaining 2,044 photos necessary to honor our heroes from Illinois for display at The Education Center.

With a groundbreaking planned for November 2012, The Education Center at The Wall is a multi-million dollar, state-of- the-art visitor’s center and learning facility to be built on the grounds of the Vietnam Veterans and the Lincoln Memorials. Visitors will better understand the profound impact the Vietnam War had their friends and family members, their home towns, and the Nation. The Education Center will feature the faces and stories of the 58,272 men and women on “The Wall,” honoring those who fell in Vietnam, those who fought and returned, as well as the friends and families of all who served. For more information, visit www.buildthecenter.org.

“Illinois suffered some of the highest casualty rates of any state in the Vietnam War,” said Jan C. Scruggs, Founder and President of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). “The Education Center at The Wall will allow Americans to put faces with the names of brave men and women who lost their lives, fostering their appreciation and respect for generations to come.”

VVMF urges the citizens of Illinois to assist the National Call for Photos by submitting photographs of fallen service-members and generously supporting the Education Center, ensuring that the sacrifices of our military heroes are never forgotten.

IEMA environmental personnel collect samples near Byron nuclear power plant

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Agency continues to monitor plant conditions through remote monitoring system
SPRINGFIELD—Environmental monitoring personnel from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are collecting samples around the Byron Nuclear Power Plant today to confirm that a steam release Jan. 30 (deemed an unusual event by the agency) poses no hazard to the public. While IEMA officials do not expect to find hazardous levels of radioactive tritium, the sampling will allow the agency to verify if tritium is present in the environment and, if present, at what levels.

“While we don’t expect to find harmful levels of tritium from the steam release at Byron, I believe it’s prudent to collect these samples and verify what levels are present,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “We have no reason to believe that harmful levels were released, but we have a duty to the public to ensure what, if any, tritium from the steam release is in the environment around the plant.”

IEMA personnel are collecting water and vegetation samples. Some of the samples will be in the same locations as routine sampling conducted by IEMA within the past month. The samples will be taken to the agency’s laboratory in Springfield for analysis. Results should be available within a few days.

Monken said reactor and environmental analysts at IEMA have been closely monitoring data on conditions at the plant since the Byron Unit 2 reactor tripped Monday morning due to a loss of off-site power. The data is received through the agency’s state-of-the-art remote monitoring system, which continuously relays information about conditions within the reactor as well as analyzes releases through the plant’s stacks and from detectors located in a two-mile radius around the plant.

The agency’s Resident Inspector for the Byron plant has been providing IEMA analysts with additional information about plant conditions and utility actions and is monitoring the utility’s recovery activities.

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