Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 23, 2012

Hospital Offers Employees Incentives to Stay Healthy

Carle Spokesman Sean Williams works out on the treadmill in his department.

A growing number of companies across the country have started encouraging employees to stay healthy by offering financial incentives. Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, which is one of the largest employers in the area, is pushing for a healthier workforce through its Charge Rewards Program. Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers reports on how it works.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)

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Categories: Business, Health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 23, 2012

Prep Work for Crystal Lake Pool Demolition Underway

Four years after the closing of Urbana's Crystal Lake Pool, workers are preparing to demolish it, to make way for its replacement.

The Urbana Park district's Tim Bartlett says demolition of the pool and related buildings will begin as soon as site preparation is completed. And he hopes that construction of the new Crystal Lake aquatic center can follow this summer, on the heels of the demolition. He says the construction plans have been sent to the Illinois Department of Public Health, and they're waiting for the agency's approval.

"They'll do a thorough review of what's being proposed", says Bartlett. "It's not uncommon for a number of a number of things to get listed or questioned. Those will get kicked back to the park district and our architects. And then we'll refine and revise as we need to.

The old Crystal Lake pool closed in 2008, and Urbana voters approved a property tax increase in 2010 to help pay for its replacement. The new aquatic center will cost an estimated $6.1 million. But Bartlett says it could cost more --- and include more features --- if a $400,000 state grant is approved. In addition, the Urbana Park District is accepting private donations that could pay for other additions to the project.

But even without the grant and the donations, Bartlett says the new pool complex will be built. "But the donations will allow us to add a few extra things, and make it extra special", he says.

The new Crystal Lake aquatic center is scheduled to open in May of 2013.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 18, 2012

Firefighters to Get Autism Awareness Training

Illinois firefighters and paramedics will begin getting special training to help people with autism and related disorders.

The new program will help them recognize the disorders and understand techniques to communicate. The online training will be free for first responders.

State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis says the training is important for first responders to understand how someone with autism may respond in high stress situations like a fire.

The program was developed by staff at the Illinois Fire Service Institute and the Office of the State Fire Marshal to raise awareness among first responders.

Fire departments with 75 percent or more staff members who complete the training will be recognized with plaques and magnets for their fire trucks.

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Categories: Health
Tags: health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 18, 2012

Firefighters to Get Autism Awareness Training

Illinois firefighters and paramedics will begin getting special training to help people with autism and related disorders.

The new program will help them recognize the disorders and understand techniques to communicate. The online training will be free for first responders.

State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis says the training is important for first responders to understand how someone with autism may respond in high stress situations like a fire.

The program was developed by staff at the Illinois Fire Service Institute and the Office of the State Fire Marshal to raise awareness among first responders.

Fire departments with 75 percent or more staff members who complete the training will be recognized with plaques and magnets for their fire trucks.

Categories: Health
Tags: health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 16, 2012

Champaign Middle School Adds Exercise Machines

Research at the University of Illinois suggests physical activity can boost cognitive health. To test that theory, Jefferson Middle School in Champaign recently added exercise equipment for its students. Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers reports.

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Categories: Education, Health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 13, 2012

Vermilion Co. Bd. To Hear Potential Management Firm for Nursing Home

The chairman of the Vermilion County Board says a presentation from a potential management agency is just one option they're exploring for the beleaguered Vermilion Manor Nursing Home. Jim McMahon says the county might also explore leasing or even selling the facility. But on Tuesday night, officials with Provena Life Connections will talk about their proposal at the Vermilion County Board meeting in Danville.

McMahon says he's looking for any viable option that can keep the nursing home going, at a time when the state is regularly late in delivering Medicaid and Medicare funding.

"What we're looking for is, how can we keep a county-owned nursing home running with 42% of the income coming from the state of Illinois, and they pay that when they feel like it, " says Durbin.

Provena Life Connections operates facilities and services for the elderly in several cities. In Champaign, they provide both home health services and hospice care.

McMahon says Provena Life Connections could bring additional services to residents at the county-owned nursing home that would help bring in additional organization>

"So a management firm can come in and say, we'll add this type of specialist," says Mamahon, "or they could bring dialysis on location. There's lots of things they can do that we can't as a county-run organization."

McMahon says he was referred to Provena Life Connections by officials at Provena United Samaritan Hospital in Danville.

The Provena Life Connections presentation is scheduled for the Vermilion County Board meeting set for Tuesday, April 17th at 6 PM at the Courthouse Annex in Danville. McMahon says no action will be taken that night, but the proposal will be considered by the county board's Nursing Home Committee on April 24th..

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 11, 2012

Illinois and the Politics of ‘ObamaCare

As the country waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the fate of President Obama's health care act, the president's home state has been working to implement it. But some legislators want to hold off. They hope the court will kill the legislation, or that it would be repealed if a Republican is elected president this fall.

While the Supreme Court case has gotten most of the attention, there's been a state-by-state effort to block major parts of the health care law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, encourages states to set up insurance exchanges -- groups that will pool insurance offerings in an attempt to make them more affordable. But the law does not require states to do this, and that's where conservatives see an opening to weaken the Affordable Care Act.

"Regardless of what you think about the federal health care law, if you support it or oppose it, there are so many unanswered questions, it really doesn't make sense for states to jump into an exchange at this point," said Christie Herrera, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nationwide group of conservative state lawmakers.

Herrera has been urging states to reject their role in the Affordable Care Act. Her organization even published a pamphlet: "The State Legislators Guide to Repealing ObamaCare."

"I think Illinois still has the opportunity to pull out of the health insurance exchange," Herrera said. "Legislation stalled last fall. Indiana, your neighboring state, is in a similar position where they said we're going to jump in, and now they're having second thoughts. So it's not too late for Illinois to reject the health insurance exchange."

State Rep. JoAnn Osmond (R-Antioch) introduced several measures to prevent Illinois from implementing any part of the law until all the legal challenges are decided. She said there are still too many unknowns -- that the administration has been giving out information in bits and pieces.

"I think that the federal government is having just as many problems as we are on state level trying to figure out what works best, and what's going to help our people and our citizens to have access to health care," Osmond said.

A lot of Republicans say ObamaCare is bad policy. But Osmond acknowledges that is not the only reason to oppose it.

"Well I'd be naive to say that this bill is not political," she said. "This bill is political."

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said there are people, especially Republicans, cheering for the program to fail.

"They don't want a victory for President Obama," Durbin said. "Many of them resent any involvement of the federal government in our health care of our nation. Even though when it comes to Medicare, veterans' care and many other aspects of health care, the federal government has played an important role in providing adequate, affordable health care for decades."

Durbin said he is worried about the political tone of last month's arguments before the Supreme Court. But he also said so much of the health care act has already been implemented, it could be impossible to turn back. He said the country is on a path that won't change.

"This law is pointing us in an inevitable direction in America to bring everybody into the peace of mind of insurance coverage and to do something to reduce the increase in cost we face every year," Durbin said.

But that depends on the Supreme Court, and on who wins this fall's elections. As both sides acknowledge, the Affordable Care Act has become a politically dicey issue.

At stake is campaign cash from the insurance industry and the natural urge of politicians not to take action on anything controversial in an election year.

Many conservatives campaigned against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and with Republicans and Democrats pitted against each other in new districts across Illinois, it's likely to be an issue again this year.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 09, 2012

Champaign County Schools Adopt Anti-Obesity Initiative

Teacher Elizabeth Well

Several schools in Champaign County have adopted a nationwide anti-obesity initiative. As part of our series on efforts in the region to increase health and wellness, Illinois Public Media's Sean Powers reports on how Carrie Busey Elementary School has incorporated nutrition into its curriculum.

(Photo by Sean Powers/WILL)

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Categories: Education, Health

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - April 08, 2012

Champaign County Schools Adopt Anti-Obesity Initiative

Several schools in Champaign County have adopted a nationwide anti-obesity initiative, known as the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH).

(Funded in part by a grant from the Lumpkin Family Foundation)

Several schools in Champaign County have adopted a nationwide anti-obesity initiative known as the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH).

Carrie Busey Elementary in Campaign began the CATCH initiative in 2009. CATCH schools get state money from the Illinois Department of Human Services over a three year period. That support, which gradually decreases over the three years, is used to revamp lunch menus, add new gym equipment, or expand nutrition education in the classroom.

Mariah Burt, who is a music teacher at Carrie Busey, has her class compose rap music related to health and wellness.

Fourth graders Peja Rowan, Ariany Smith, and Lily Smith stand in front of the class, performing original songs about nutrition. They use body and vocal percussion, such as stomping their feet and beatboxing: "I love you. You love apples. Remix... We eat fruit...You should too...We also eat vegetables with you...That's what you're supposed to do."

Burt said the songs about nutrition that come out of her classroom don't just stay in her class.

"Sometimes a kid will be sitting at lunch and see another kid bring a candy bar and say, 'Hey, remember the rap we did the other day, you're not supposed to be eating that whoa food. You're supposed to be eating the carrots of your platter because that's a 'Go food,"' Burt said. "So, it really has become a part of who they are through the musical setting."

In the school's cafeteria, there is a big poster outlining the three different food categories that the students learn about - 'Go foods' like fruits and vegetables are considered the most healthy; 'Slow foods' like yogurt and cheese should be eaten in moderation; and 'Whoa foods' like frosted cupcakes and candy are reserved strictly for special occasions.

To avoid an overabundance of 'Whoa foods,' gym teacher Wendy Starwalt rewards students with prizes if they eat plenty 'Go foods' during lunch. She also said the school has designated days once a month for birthday treats.

"It was hard for parents to understand why their child couldn't bring cupcakes on their birthday, and we had to help our kids understand why that was happening," Starwalt said. "So, now we're three years into that already, and a lot of teachers on the actual birthday have come up with celebrations that don't involve food."

Starwalt came to Carrie Busey a few years ago after teaching at Dr. Howard Elementary School in Champaign. That was the first school in Champaign County to test out the CATCH initiative. But after it ended, the school wasn't been able to sustain it. Starwalt said that is because only a few staff members were trained to teach a curriculum centered on health and wellness, and those teachers - like Starwalt - left the school. To avoid that from happening at Carrie Busey, all employees went through CATCH training.

Second grade teacher Elizabeth Well is in her second year of teaching the CATCH curriculum. A few times each year, she follows a prepared set of instructional course material that is designed for CATCH schools. During a recent classroom discussion, she talked about the importance of fiber.

"Fiber cleans the places in your body where food passes, and fiber is great because it makes the chances of getting some types of cancer go away, "Well said.

Well demonstrated how to make a high-fiber snack.

"Now this is rice and corn flakes," she said as she lift up a plastic bag full of Cheerios. "We know this is high fiber even though it doesn't say in big letters like on Raisin Brand that it's fiber because it is from wheat...and we learned fiber are things that are grown, but doesn't come from an animal."

As the class makes their snacks, a couple of the students demonstrated their knowledge about fiber.

"Well, it cleans your body and it also helps you to get healthier," David Cardaronella said.

"It lowers our chances of getting cancer," Zakyah Billings added.

When the bell rings, the kids head out, taking their bagged snacks. Well said after a year of teaching CATCH courses, she thinks more of her students are aware about what they are eating.

"Honestly, as an adult after teaching this for a year, I'm a little more aware and conscious of what I'm eating and looking at the labels and cereal boxes and things like that," she said. "So, it's even helped me as an adult."

After school is over, about 40 kids pack into the music room. Music teacher, Mariah Burt welcomes the group to the first day of Dance Club.

"Now you are all part of a healthy team and a healthy family that's going to help each other feel good about what we're doing and make sure that you help other people follow those directions," Burt said.

After going over the rules of Dance Club, Burt leads the class in some movements: "Five...six...seven...eight...stomp, stomp, clap, clap....one...two...three...four."

Out in the hallway right outside of the music room, a group of parents watch as 11-year-old Grace Rispoli teaches her peers the dance moves, mimicking what their teacher was just doing.

"Stomp, clap, clap, stomp, clap," Rispoli said. "Now, remember the thing is that even I forget the second stop. We have to remember that otherwise it won't look the same, and we can't clap first. We have to stomp first."

Nikiki Hillier, who is a program coordinator Program in the Division of Wellness and Health Promotion at the Champaign Urbana Public Health District, monitors the CATCH initiative in Champaign County. So far, five elementary schools in her area have taken part in CATCH: Carrie Busey, Dr. Howard, Unity West, Thomasboro, and Fisher.

While Hillier said the work to educate kids about nutrition may start at the schools, it shouldn't end there.

"You don't want to undermine everything that you've done all day at school by sending them home, and they're having fried foods and pop for dinner," Hillier said. "So, it's very important that the parents are on their journey with us."

After all, once these kids grow up, it will be up to them to teach the next generation about what it means to make healthy choices, one step at a time.

Related Links:

More about the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) Chart of 'Go' 'Slow' and 'Whoa' Foods Unit 4 Tries to Stay Ahead of Nutrition Standards (Related)

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Categories: Community, Education, Health, Music

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 04, 2012

Carle Hospital, Four Others, Pull Application for Tax Exemption

Five Illinois hospitals, including Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, have withdrawn their applications for tax exemptions, leaving it up to county governments whether to assess taxes on the properties.

Illinois Department of Revenue spokeswoman Susan Hofer says hospitals in Murphysboro, Moline, Monmouth and Hillsboro have also withdrawn applications in the past week. That clears county authorities to evaluate the properties and collect taxes.

The development comes as Illinois leaders grapple with a 2010 Illinois Supreme Court ruling. The court found that one hospital wasn't doing enough charity care to qualify for an exemption. That ruling called into question other hospitals' tax exemptions.

Gov. Pat Quinn authorized more rulings on hospital tax exemptions earlier this month when efforts to find a legislative compromise failed.

The revenue department is continuing to review pending applications from other hospitals.

Categories: Government, Health, Politics

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