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Health & Wellness - page 9

Cherished Children: Grief support for parents

in Health & Wellness by

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

in Featured/Health & Wellness by

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

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

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 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 For more information, see or call the office.

IEMA encourages families to practice emergency plans

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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

“Fit Kids 2020” outlines strategies to reduce childhood obesity

in Featured/Health & Wellness by

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

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

in Elburn/Health & Wellness by

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

Friendship connection helps kids connect with others

in Health & Wellness/Maple Park by

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

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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

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

in Health & Wellness by

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

Hospice offers hope for the new year

in Featured/Health & Wellness by

Photo: Trained volunteer facilitator Laura Mooberry works with children in Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice’s bereavement program for families who have lost loved ones. Courtesy Photo

GENEVA—To start out the new year with hope, Fox Valley Volunteer Hospice is offering programs in January to help families cope with a death loss, and to help those who have lost a life partner move on.

Herbie’s Friends is a program to help grieving families coping with loss, grief and death. The group is for families with children ages 5 to 18, and creates a safe environment to express thoughts, feelings and stories with others who have also experienced a death loss. Participants will enjoy a meal together, followed by activities led by trained facilitators. Herbie’s Friends meets Mondays, Jan. 17 to Feb. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fox Valley Presbyterian Church, 227 East Side Drive, Geneva. The program is free, but registration is required.

Next Step is a resource for those who have lost a life partner. Each month, the program offers practical topics that will help participants move forward in their grief journey, develop coping skills and adapt to the life changes they are experiencing. This drop-in group meets the second Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at FVVH, 200 Whitfield Drive, Geneva.

The program is free, but registration is required. The topic for the Jan. 13 session is “Managing Your Finances,” in which participants will learn how to reduce financial worries by defining goals, understanding financial challenges, and developing a sound savings and investment strategy. See for a complete list of 2011 topics.

To register for either program, call (630) 232-2233. Spanish interpretation is available.

DC Hospice bereavement programs

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DEKALB—The following are programs offered by the DeKalb County Hospice:

Bridge of Hope
Bridge of Hope is a grief group for adults who have experienced the death of someone special. This free group meets for seven sessions and offers grief education and support. The group meets weekly, Jan. 10 to Feb. 21, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at DeKalb County Hospice. To register, call, (815) 756-3000 or visit

Living After Loss
Living After Loss is a free child-loss group intended for parents who have experienced the death of a child, no matter the age. The group meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at DeKalb County Hospice.

For more information or to register, call DeKalb County Hospice at (815) 756-3000 or visit

Parenting difficult adolescents

in Health & Wellness by

GENEVA—Attention parents of adolescent teens: Join TriCity Family Services for a Parent Support & Education Series presentation, “Parenting Difficult Adolescents,” which will be presented in two parts on Monday, Jan. 10, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., and Monday, Jan. 17, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. The presentation will be at the TriCity Family Services offices, located at 1120 Randall Court in Geneva.

Some of the topic questions addressed the presentation include:
• Is there such a thing as normal adolescence?
• How do I continue to connect with my teen when he or she won’t talk to me about important issues and concerns?
• How do I maintain a positive relationship with my teen when I have to stand firm in the face of manipulation and testing?
• What will the climate look like in my home during these difficult adolescent years?

Start 2011 with the best gift of all: an improved relationship with your teenager. Advance registration is preferred. Entrance fee is $10 per attendee. However, fee waivers are available based on need. Call TriCity Family Services at (630) 232-1070 to register.

Delnor, CDH sign merger agreement

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Central DuPage Hospital CEO Luke McGuinness (left) and Delnor CEO Thomas L. Wright shake hands over the definitive agreement. Courtesy Photo


Geneva/Winfield—Delnor Health System (Delnor) and Central DuPage Health (CDH) this week announced they have signed a definitive agreement to merge.

This follows the Oct. 5 announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding developed by the Delnor and CDH boards of directors. A merger of the two organizations remains subject to regulatory review and approval, which is expected to occur in the coming months.

“This is the next important step in achieving our vision to create a single, integrated health system,” explained Thomas L. Wright, president and CEO of Delnor. “We are excited to bring together two top quality health systems to deliver the best in medical care for the patients and communities we serve.”

“By signing today, we anticipate being able to implement our shared vision in the spring of 2011,” said CDH CEO Luke McGuinness. “We are thrilled to be so close to realizing the benefit our patients and communities will receive once this integrated health system is fully functioning.”

The goal of the proposed new entity is to expand healthcare in the western suburbs of Chicago by elevating the caliber and breadth of healthcare services available in the region, extending local access to care and creating a level of scale that will deliver even higher quality at a lower cost.

Working in close collaboration with physicians on their respective medical staffs, the two management teams will create new opportunities for continued improvements in healthcare delivery and outcomes. Patients will continue to have the same access to the physicians and hospitals they have now, and will gain increased access to a broader range of clinical services.

Delnor and CDH will also carry on their essential roles in serving the healthcare needs of the communities they serve, including their strong commitments to charity care, wellness and prevention programs, and continued collaboration with community organizations and agencies.

As part of the regulatory review process, the hospitals will file with the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and the Illinois Attorney General. Until then, the two health systems will continue to function independently and engage in continued planning for the new health system.

Party hints for avoiding food poisoning

in Health & Wellness by

SPRINGFIELD—The holiday season often includes gathering with friends and family for holiday dinners, office parties or other celebrations. But those get-togethers may also include an unwanted guest: food poisoning.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. In Illinois, it is estimated that as many as 250,000 cases of foodborne illness may occur each year. However, because these illnesses can be quite mild and because the vast majority of them occur in the home, many go unreported.

How not to invite Mr. E.coli and Ms. Salmonella to your party:
Keep everything in the kitchen clean. Counter tops and utensils should be washed with hot, soapy water between each step in food preparation. Bacteria from raw meat and poultry can get into other foods if they touch the same surfaces or each other.

Wash hands often during food preparation and while serving. Most bacteria get into food through improper handling. Hands should always be washed with soap and warm water before handling food, and towels and wash cloths should be kept clean as bacteria can linger in those used repeatedly between launderings. Also, if someone has diarrhea or vomiting, they should not prepare or serve food for others as they may give them a present no one wants.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Cooking food thoroughly kills most bacteria that cause food poisoning. Cook meat and poultry thoroughly (see chart) and use a thermometer to check the temperature. Maintain hot food at 140°F, and store and serve cold foods at or below 40°F. Do not leave food unrefrigerated longer than one hour at a time or the chances of dangerous bacterial growth increase. In other words, do not let potentially hazardous foods reach that intermediate temperature at which microorganisms grow best, between 40°F and 140°F.

Dinner Fahrenheit Dinner Fahrenheit
Medium Rare 145°
Medium 160°
Well Done 170°
Ground beef 160°

Ham 160°

Chicken 165°
Turkey 165°

Casseroles 160°
Sauces/custards 160°

Party goers and guests—avoiding unintentional guests
Be cautious when eating certain foods, such as raw oysters, egg drinks, mousse or bread pudding (unless made with pasteurized eggs or an egg substitute); softboiled eggs; steak tartare; and rare or medium hamburger. These foods can harbor bacteria that cause food poisoning. It is particularly important that young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those who are ill or whose immune systems are compromised not eat raw or undercooked animal products or raw oysters unless they have consulted a physician.

If you or a family member develops nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or abdominal cramps, you could have food poisoning. Symptoms of foodborne illnesses can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after eating the contaminated food. Most often, people get sick within four to 48 hours after eating contaminated food.

Some foodborne illnesses will resolve themselves without treatment. However, if the symptoms are severe or if the person is very young, old, pregnant or already ill, call a doctor or go to a nearby hospital immediately. If groups of people from different households become sick with vomiting and diarrhea, contact the local health department.

Tips to reduce the risk of depression during the holidays

in Health & Wellness by

CHICAGO—The Illinois Department of Human Services’ (IDHS) Division of Mental Health (DMH) urges Illinois residents to take extra time this holiday season to tend to their mental health.

This time of year is often thought of as a time of merriment and glee. However, the season can be accompanied by significant fatigue, stress, worry, anxiety, loneliness and even depression. People who have suffered the loss of loved ones, especially during the previous year, experience increased sadness during the holidays.

“As holiday preparations proceed, it is important to remember to include time in our daily schedules to ward off these emotional challenges and allow a happy, healthy and joyous holiday season,” said Lorrie Jones, Ph.D., Director of the IDHS Division of Mental Health. “Mental health problems can affect anyone and it only takes one person to help support someone else who may feel overwhelmed due to the holiday pressure. Even for those without acute or medically diagnosed mental illness, there is a risk of depression and anxiety if people do not care for themselves.”

IDHS recommends these tips to remember for the holiday season:

1. Remember to take care of yourself physically
Proper sleep and nutrition are key stress busters. Lack of sleep will make you tired, irritable and more vulnerable to emotional ups and downs.

Those who indulge in over eating and over drinking put themselves at risk. Alcohol consumption interferes with sleep and causes or increases feelings of depression.

2. Be realistic
Give yourself realistic limits about what you can do. Only commit to the number of parties or activities you can actually enjoy attending. Running from event to event doesn’t turn out to be much fun and creates unnecessary stress and anxiety.

3. Stay within your financial comfort zone
Perhaps one of the greatest risk factors for holiday depression has to do with financial excess. While it is great to want to get a gift for every person who has been important to you over the year, can you really afford to buy everyone you want everything you want? Overspending not only causes stress during the holiday season, but when it is all over, people experience resentment and worry over the subsequent months as they stress over how to fill in the budget gap that was created.

4. Do something that makes you feel good and helps others
Nothing takes us out of a funk faster than helping someone else. It feels good to the doer and the receiver. Volunteer at your favorite charity or serve at a soup kitchen.

5. Do not be afraid to ask for help
If you are in crisis now or if you or someone you are concerned about is in a crisis state and at risk of harm to yourself, others, or property, or at risk of psychiatric hospitalization, you may exercise any of the following three options: Call 911 (Police and fire department personnel are trained responders to situations involving mental health issues), go to the Emergency room at a local area hospital or contact the nearest provider of crisis psychiatric services.

For more information on resources and actions that you can take, see the DHS Suicide Prevention information at

For nonemergency mental health services, use the DHS Office Locator and search for Mental Health to find the nearest Community Mental Health Center.

Delnor implements program to lower the risk for drug-resistant infections

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GENEVA—Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem and one that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “one of the world’s most pressing public health concerns.” To address the issue, Delnor Hospital is taking action to improve the use of antibiotics among its patients and the community.

“Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become increasingly resistant,” said Steven Lewis, M.D., board certified internist and infectious disease specialist at Delnor. “If antibiotics are used too often for things they can’t treat—like colds, flu or other viral infections—they become less effective against the bacteria they’re intended to treat. Not taking antibiotics exactly as prescribed can also lead to problems.”

A good example of the dangers of antibiotic resistance is the spread of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Another increasingly common and serious complication of exposure to antibiotics is Clostridium difficile infection or C. diff. When C. diff is present in the bowel, exposure to an antibiotic can trigger it to produce a toxin that causes inflammation of the colon. The resulting disease can range from diarrhea to a life threatening illness.

The Antibiotic Stewardship program at Delnor was implemented in May of 2009. At the end of the fiscal year 2010 (September 2009 – August 2010), there has been a 28.5% reduction in hospital acquired cases of C. diff compared to fiscal year 2009.

Until recently, the Antibiotic Stewardship program looked to reduce the use of antibiotics within the patient population at Delnor. However, two new initiatives have recently been added which aim to lessen antibiotics usage outside of the Delnor walls and in the community.

Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections, certain fungal infections and some kinds of parasites.
“However, antibiotics don’t work against most viruses. Taking an antibiotic when you have a viral infection won’t make you feel better—and can contribute to antibiotic resistance,” Lewis said.

Understand when antibiotics should be used. Antibiotics are effective in treating most bacterial infections, but they’re not useful against viral infections, such as colds, acute bronchitis or the flu.

Don’t pressure your doctor for antibiotics if you have a viral illness. Instead, talk with your doctor about ways to relieve your symptoms.

Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed. Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking medication. Don’t stop treatment a few days early because you’re feeling better. Taking the full course of antibiotics is the only way to kill all of the harmful bacteria.

Never take antibiotics without a prescription. Always complete the course of antibiotics you are given and don’t save for the next time or pass it along to someone else.

For more information, visit quality.

Protect your family by getting flu vaccinations

in Health & Wellness by

SPRINGFIELD—Millions of people travel every year during the holiday season to spend time with friends and family. To help stay healthy this holiday season, the Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging everyone six months and older to get a flu shot.

“Every influenza season is different and people are affected by the flu differently. Even healthy children and adults can become very sick from influenza,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “There are some people who cannot be vaccinated, such as babies younger than six months and those who are allergic to the vaccine. That’s why it is important for those of us who can get our influenza vaccine, to do so and protect those vulnerable populations who could become seriously ill.”

Influenza is spread mainly through person-to-person contact when an infected person does not properly cover a cough or sneeze. Holiday travel and gatherings increase the opportunity for person-to-person contact, making it an ideal time for illness to spread.

The vaccine is available in two forms, a flu shot or nasal spray. Neither form of the vaccine will cause influenza.

The vaccine is available at local health departments as well as some doctor’s offices, health clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. The cost of vaccine will vary by location, but it is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and by some insurance companies.

Along with the vaccine, washing your hands is one of the most important steps 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.

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Laughter can be the best medicine

in Health & Wellness by

Cancer resource center offers workshop
on using laughter
to manage pain, stress

Elgin—LivingWell Cancer Resource Center will present a workshop on Laughter to Manage Pain and Stress on Tuesday, Dec. 7, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Provena Saint Joseph Hospital Bob & Edna Meadows Cancer Center, 88 N. Airlite Ave., in Elgin.

According to the workshop facilitator Terri Reasoner, repetitive laughter can have the same effect on your body as repetitive exercise. Join Reasoner as she shows how laughter is nature’s medicine that can help you manage pain while reducing stress.

Using Laughter Yoga exercises, this simple yet powerful approach to laughter can be done by anyone, at anytime or anywhere regardless of what your mind has to say. You don’t have to have a sense of humor or know any jokes, so join the fun and laugh with us for no reason at all. Come to reduce your stress while you let your inner giggles shine.

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

LivingWell Cancer Resource Center provides information and support services that address the challenges of people living with cancer, their family members and their friends. All services are provided at no charge to participants. LivingWell offers networking and support groups, educational programs, mind-body fitness classes, youth programs, a library, individual psychological and nutritional counseling and other services.

The center is at 1803 W. State St. in Geneva, and online at LivingWell is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be called at (630) 262-1111. LivingWell is a certified 501(c) nonprofit organization and an affiliate of Delnor Heath System.

Snowflake Shuffle 5K set for Dec. 4

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

Geneva—TriCity Family Services will present the annual Snowflake Shuffle 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Dec. 4, in the Mill Creek Subdivision in Geneva. More than 300 people participated in the Snowflake Shuffle last year, and with this year’s additional Youth Mile event, even more are expected.

The course is USATF certified. Split times will be given at every mile, and finish line management and timing services will be provided by Race Time. Awards will be presented to the top three males and females in each five-year age division.

Event check-in begins at 7 a.m., with the Youth Mile event starting things off at 8 a.m. The 5K race and walk will begin at 9 a.m. Check-in is located at the Mill Creek Clubhouse, 39W525 Herrington Drive, Geneva. Pre-registration fees are $25 for adults, $15 for children and teens, and free for children age 5 and younger. The fee for the Youth Mile, for children age 14 and younger, is $10. Participants will receive a goody bag and Snowflake Shuffle long-sleeve T-shirt. Day-of-registration fees are $5 more, and shirts are not guaranteed. All proceeds benefit TriCity Family Services.

For information, visit or call (630) 232-1070.

‘Rightsizing’ your home, hospice care information and pre-planning your memorial

in Health & Wellness by

BATAVIA—Have you made your “Bucket List?” Not likely. Most of us aren’t comfortable addressing the aging process and how our later years should be spent. Maybe it’s time for an attitude adjustment.

On The Holmstad, a covenant retirement community, will offer a half-day seminar “Finishing Well: Is Your Life Making a Difference?” on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Town Center, 700 W. Fabyan Parkway, Batavia.

The seminar is offered to the community at no charge and will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a continental breakfast. Reservations are appreciated, but walk-ins are welcome. For reservations or information, call (630) 879-4000 or e-mail or

This seminar is the first in a proposed series addressing various issues of aging.The event will begin with a keynote address, “Celebrating the Difference You Make,” by Don Swanson, Director of Pastoral Services at FHN, a regional healthcare organization. A member of the American Association of Therapeutic Humor, Swanson will offer a light-hearted look at what it means to finish well.

“An event such as this offers an opportunity to gather information and share your concerns and fears about aging with others in a positive and uplifting way,” Swanson said. “Participants will find that although we don’t all share the same definition of making a difference, we all find that it’s the little things that can count the most.”

Besides the keynote speech, participants can choose two of the three sessions that will run simultaneously and be repeated twice. The topics are:
• “Moving a Lifetime” with Mary Jo Zeller of Gero Solutions. She will discuss having a “transition plan” for moving or de-cluttering a home; making your current or new home “right” for this time of your life;
• “CovenantCare Hospice: Comfort Care, Support and So Much More” with three representatives of CovenantCare at Home. You will learn what hospice does and what benefits there are for you and your family;
• “Having the Last Word” with Don Swanson. Swanson will explain the value of pre-planning and how to ensure our values live on after our last breath.

In addition to the seminars, all participants will gather together for an open forum with the speakers during lunch, which features a gourmet boxed meal. Booths showcasing many resources offered by various businesses will be available during the day.

If your group or business would like to be represented with a booth, please contact Renee Sanchez at (630) 879-4000 as soon as possible.

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