“With more choices available than ever before, our communities have more opportunities to achieve and maintain good health. But this wide variety of health-related choices can also be overwhelming. More than ever, public health and clinical health professionals must join forces to help this community navigate the changing system,” said Winnebago County Public Health Administrator, Mike Bacon.

“With the national healthcare system changes there is broad recognition that healthcare costs are unsustainable. We have had a treatment care system rather than a preventive healthcare system. Good health requires that we all take individual responsibility for ourselves and our families. But, the choices we make are shaped by the choices we have. It isn’t just about self-discipline,” added Winnebago County Public Health Administrator, Mike Bacon.

Our environment at work, at school, and in our neighborhoods largely determine the availability of healthier, affordable foods, the integrity of our homes, the availability of safe, clean recreational venues, and access to high quality learning, entertainment and social support opportunities. In fact, where we live can dramatically influence our chance of living a longer, healthier life, by as much as ten or more years.             

The most significant change to public health for 2014 is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA is an important update to the overall health system. WCHD has led local efforts through the In-Person Counselors grant to work with local health and human services providers to offer community-wide education, and outreach and enrollment opportunities for health insurance coverage.
Everyone should have the opportunity to be as healthy as he or she can be and our community should be safe from threats to health. This should include everyone having a necessary level of services that protect and support health. Public Health delivers real value as a cost-effective way to keep people healthy and improve the quality of life.  Everyone wins when we prevent disease rather than treat people after they get ill.  Health care costs go down, neighborhoods are healthier, more economic opportunities develop and most importantly, people live longer, healthier and happier lives. Here are five ways public health professionals work every day to keep you and your family healthy and safe.

Be Healthy From the Start:
Public Health starts at home, from family nutrition and maternal health to safety precautions, improved meal planning and preparing for emergencies in the in the comfort of their own home.

Don’t Panic:
Public Health professionals help residents and the community withstand the impact of a natural or man-made disaster by planning ahead, acting as a source of information during a crisis and helping to mitigate the long-and short-term effects (from a bioterrorism event, to flooding or a large-scale outbreak or pandemics).

Get Out Ahead:
Prevention is now a nationwide priority, and the public health system evolves, there are more options than ever when it comes to preventive health measures. Public health and clinical health professionals must work collaboratively to help individuals identify and pursue the best preventive health options (e.g., get fit, eat healthy, and don’t smoke).

Eat Well:
The system that keeps our nation’s food safe and healthy is complex. There is a lot of information to parse in order to understand everything from food labels to learning best practices during a food-borne outbreak. Public health professionals guide people through their choices.

Be the Healthiest Nation in One Generation: 
For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before. Communities can and must address this disturbing trend to make sure children and young adults have bright, healthy futures. Public Health professionals lead the way by helping communities identify the resources and information available on what works to keep everyone healthy and safe.

 Public health services matter: 

  • Where you live shouldn’t determine how healthy you are. Local public health departments serve as a unique an essential component of an integrated health system that looks out for the population as a whole, rather than focus on the health outcomes of individuals alone.
  • Public health departments identify community health problems and effective strategies for improving them.
  • Public health departments bring together partners to address community health priorities.
  • Public health is essential in protecting our community from threats to environmental quality, to bioterrorism, and to infectious disease outbreaks.

WCHD Public Information Officer, Sue Fuller, emphasizes that supporting public health approaches to better health does reap life-saving returns. For example, research shows that investing just $10 per person each year in proven, community-based public health efforts can save the nation more than $16 billion within five years. That’s a $5.60 return for every $1 invested. Public Health encourages a call to action about the value of prevention to our lives, pocketbooks and futures.  

In honor of Public Health Month, the Winnebago County Health Department is offering the community free or reduced-cost health screenings.  Join us as we work together to empower all of Winnebago County, with the tools, knowledge and resources to make a difference in our community’s health and to take charge of our own health.                                                                           

Wellness events in April offered by the Winnebago County Health Department:

  • April 1 – June 30, 2014 Walk-in Affordable Care Act (ACA) Enrollment Center has
    walk-in hours or appointments available from 9 am - 5 pm (Monday – Friday) at the Winnebago County Health Department, 555 North Court Street, Rockford, Illinois (Room 204) More information @ or by calling 815-720-4247.

Help is available for:  

  • General ACA and insurance questions
  • Enrolling in health insurance coverage or terminating your coverage
  • Year-round Medicaid enrollment assistance
  • Assistance with appeals and denials
  • Assistance with making changes due to a qualifying event (examples:  marriage/divorce, birth/death, job change, moving)
  • Help with Special Enrollment Periods (SEP)  
  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 Walk-in Cholesterol Screening ($25.00- regularly $40) from
    7:30 am – 10:30 am at the Winnebago County Health Department, 555 North Court Street, Rockford, Illinois (Room 205)  More information @ or by calling

  • Tuesday April 8 and Thursday, April 10, 2014 Two Seven Week Smoking Cessation Classes offered by the Winnebago County Health Department. The classes run for about 90 minutes each and are free to county residents. Classes start on either Tuesday, April 8, 2014 from 5:30 -7:00 pm, at Crusader Clinic located at 1100 Broadway, or on Thursday April 10, 2014 from 4-5:30 pm, at Crusader Clinic located at 1200 West State Street. For more information on these two sessions go to, or call 815-720-4269.
  • Monday, April 14, 2014 Annual Pollen Count Begins
    The Winnebago County Health Department Laboratory will begin the annual Pollen Count Report on Monday, April 14, 2014 and will continue until the first hard frost or approximately the second week of October.  The pollen count will be listed Monday through Friday (after 10:30 am) on the Winnebago County Health Department’s website at www.wchd, or by calling the pollen count hotline at 815-720-4140.

Wellness events in April the Winnebago County Health is involved with: 

  • April 4, 2014: - 12th Annual African-American Women’s Purple Tea with Friends presented by the American Cancer Society in partnership with the Winnebago County Health Department will be at 2:00 pm at Giovanni’s, 610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford.   Keynote speaker will share tips on healthy living and life-saving cancer screenings: local cancer survivors will share their personal story with cancer.  Wear PURPL and join us for tea. To RSVP call 815-229-1287, by April 1, 2014.
  • Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11, 2014: - Celebrating All Things Public Health!
      Collaboration with  the  University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and the
      Rockford Regional Office of the Illinois Department of Public Health

      Healthcare Career Fair
      (Public Health Careers Booth)
      Thursday, April 10, 2014 from  4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
      Friday, April 11, 2014  from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
      Rock Valley College, Physical Education Center, 3303 North Mulford Road, Rockford, IL. 
  • Friday, April 11, 2014: - Celebrating All Things Public Health!  
    Collaboration with the  University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and the Rockford Regional Office of the Illinois Department of Public Health 
    Local Public Health In Action – An event to highlight local public health in action.
    University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford - Lobby
    1601 Parkview Avenue, Rockford, Illinois 
    12:00 noon – 2:00 pm
    University of Illinois Rockford’s New Regional Dean, Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD
    Winnebago County Health Department’s Public Health Administrator, Mike Bacon
    Illinois Department of Public Health – Rockford Regional Health Officer, Mark Hunter
    DuPage Federation, Program Director, Kathryn Nelson  
    Announcements: “This is Public Health” Photo Contest Winners - Two contests – one for Jefferson High School students and one for students at the University of Illinois Rockford campus.
    Poster and Photo Viewing and Networking - Viewing of poster boards in the lobby highlighting local health department projects.
    RSVP by Tuesday, April 8, 2014 to Vicki Weidenbacher-Hoper, 815-395-5854.
  • Saturday, April 5, 2014: -  WCHD’s Childhood Lead Prevention Program Booth at the
    Week of the Young Child / Early Childhood Family Fun Fair on Saturday, April 5, 2014 
    10:00 am – 2:30 pm at Heartland Community Church, 1280 South Alpine Road, Rockford, Illinois 61108. More at
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014: - Rockford’s Summit of Hope. The Winnebago County Health Department’s HIV, In-Person Counselor’s (Affordable Care Act enrollment) and Health Promotions Programs will be partnering with the community in the Rockford’s Summit of Hope to assist parolees with resources for re-entry into our community at the Macedonia Church located at 1720 Morgan Street, Rockford. For more information contact Marcus King, Community Outreach Administrator, Illinois Department of Corrections at 217-855-1741.

For more information on the programs, services, and classes that the Winnebago County Health Department provides, go to the website at; or call the Department at 815-720-4000.