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Healthy people in a healthy community without health disparities


Healthy Community Compass 

 spring flower

Spring 2013

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In This Issue
Communicable Disease Bulletin
WCHD Pollen Count
Health Observations
Weather Preparedness
West Nile Virus Season
2013 County Health Rankings
Walking School Bus
Summer Illnesses
Infant Immunizations
National Public Health Week ??? Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money
Public Health is ROI: Save Lives, Save Money(1.55 min.)



Communicable Disease Corner


2013 Communicable Disease Bulletin - Spring Edition  


Environmental Health Message


Annual Pollen Count Webpage

Health Observance
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month
Winnebago County Proclamation


Illinois Emergency Management Agency

Severe Weather Preparedness



"Compass"... is
a WCHD newsletter intended to provide public health partners and the broader community with information on services and resources vital to reducing preventable disease and avoidable health care costs.
"Compass" strives
to highlight the path of evidence-based prevention strategies and promote good health as a shared responsibility between individual healthy choices and community / public policy support to improve health at all levels.
Contact Information
Winnebago County Health Department 
401 Division Street
P.O. Box 4009
Rockford, Illinois  61110-0509 

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 PH Logo
Mike Bacon

Dear Community Resident: 

Welcome to the 2013 Spring Edition of the
"Compass" Newsletter.

Highlighting the Need for Suicide
Prevention Strategies   

WCHD has just updated its epidemiological assessment of homicide and suicide trends in Rockford and Winnebago County (1968-2010). Historically suicide prevention efforts have been largely focused on youth and older adults, but recent information both nationally and in Winnebago County suggest that suicide rates among middle-aged adults have increased substantially over the past decade, with the highest suicide risks being 1.7 to 1.8 times more likely in the 35 to 54 age group. Firearms and suffocation are the two leading causes of death in connection to suicide, with firearms actually slightly declining over the past 25 years as a cause of death, while suffocation increased.
These findings remind us of the importance of mental health / suicide prevention strategies focused more clearly on the stresses and challenges of middle-age adults currently and the stresses they are likely to face in the future. These include economic challenges, dual caregiver responsibility and potential personal health problems. Prevention strategies should include enhancement of social support, community connectedness, access to mental health and prevention services, and overall efforts to eliminate stigma and barriers to seeking help. These are all important in reducing suicide risk across the lifespan.

This report is available on WCHD's website (www.wchd.org) under Publications / Videos.

This work was undertaken as part of an internship project by Rockford native and Harvard University student, Jeffrey Wang. Mr. Wang is a RWJF epidemiology scholar currently enrolled in a combined Bachelor and Masters Degree curriculum.

Bacon's signature
J. Maichle Bacon
Public Health Administrator
2013 West Nile Virus Season

WNVWest Nile virus is an infection that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe. Mild symptoms are things like a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph glands. Severe symptoms are conditions like encephalitis and meningitis. To learn more about West Nile virus, who is susceptible, what to do in case you have symptoms and the Winnebago County Health Department's WNV report line click here. For the WNV webpage click here.

2013 County Health Rankings 

Winnebago County's overall health ranking fell from last year, moving from the third quartile in health outcomes to the fourth quartile in Illinois (82 out of 102 counties), according to the annual County Health Rankings, released in March of 2013. Click here to find out:

  • What factors assessed as part of the ranking?
  • What does this mean to our community?
  • What is being done to improve our community?
  • What can you do to improve our community?

Walking School Bus  

WSB Instead of riding the bus to school the morning of April 22nd, students at Lewis Lemon Elementary School participated in the first coordinated Walking School Bus activity. The bus is powered by feet - no gas required. The bus has no wheels, seats or walls. The walking school bus is a form of active and healthy transportation where adult "drivers" walk students on a set route to school, picking up children along the way at designated "bus-stops." The walking school bus concept is part of the Winnebago County Health Department's "We Choose Health" grant.  To read more on the Walking School Bus concept, click here.    

Summer Increase of Gastrointestinal Illness  

The incidence of certain gastrointestinal illnesses increases during the summer months across the nation. Warmer weather means more outdoor activities and increased exposure to bacteria which can lead to increased incidence of stomach issues. To read more on gastrointestinal illnesses and activities that may increase the risk, click here. 

Importance of Infant Immunizations  

According to Winnebago County Health Department Finfant immunizationamily Health Services Supervisor, Mary Weyand, "Your baby's protection begins at birth with that very first dose of Hepatitis B. Immunizations not only provide individual protection to each child, but protect the health of the entire community." To find out more about protecting your baby and your community please click here. 

Head Over Heels For Good Health
Back-To-School Health Clinic  8/14/2013

In an effort to provide all children with an opportunity for a healthy start to the 2013-2014 school year, the Winnebago County Health Department will offer the "Head Over HOH LogoHeels For Good Health" - 4th Annual Back to School Health Clinic for all students Pre-k, through the 12th grade on Wednesday, August 14, 2013, from 3-7 pm at the Winnebago County Health Department's 555 North Court Street location. To learn more about how the clinic can prepare your child for the upcoming school year, click here. For the Clinic flyer click here.

Please visit our website at www.wchd.orgfor our Healthy Community Compass Archive Pages. You may also follow the Health Department on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact Sue Fuller at sfuller@wchd.org for any suggestions on future articles or how we can improve our newsletter. 
Contributing writers for this Edition include: Kyle Auman, Kara Biery, Mary Weyand, Larry Swacina, Mike Bacon and Sue Fuller.