Blog module icon

All Blog

Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Feb 14

National Condom Week

Posted to Clinic Blog by Kiah Weston


The Henry and Stark County Health Departments and their First Choice Healthcare Clinics in Kewanee and Colona note that Valentine’s Day kicks off the important health designation of National Condom Week, February 14-21.  Americans spend almost $20 billion each year on candy, cards, flowers and other gifts for Valentine’s Day.  The Health Department is encouraging residents to add another item to their gift list-condoms.

The primary goal of National Condom Week is to promote safe sex and normalize the use of condoms.  The Health Departments and First Choice Healthcare note, “Of all birth control methods available, the condom is the only option that also protects against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and Syphilis. With this in mind, we believe National Condom Week is also an opportune time to remind area residents that our First Choice Healthcare Clinics offer confidential:"
~ Free Condoms
~ STD Testing for Males and Females
~ Treatment of STDs
~ Contraceptive Supplies
~ Preventative immunizations against such STDs as Hepatitis B and HPV 
~ Counseling, Education, and Referral 
~ Expedited Partner Treatment

"Though the subjects of Condoms and STDs may not be a comfortable healthcare issue to discuss, we want people to remember we are a source of confidential education, prevention, testing and treatment.   And we are literally just a phone call away.  People should know we offer the tools and services people need to stay healthy."

First Choice Healthcare accepts medicaid payments, insurance, and cash payment.  A sliding fee scale, based on the client's income, has been established to assist low-income families to obtain services.  In addition, grant funds are available for those who meet certain eligibility requirements.

For more information or to schedule an appointment call our First Choice Healthcare locations at (309) 852-5272 KEWANEE or (309) 792-4011 COLONA.  You may also find us on Facebook at First Choice Healthcare or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.

Mar 06

National Groundwater Awareness Week

Posted to Environmental Health by Kiah Weston


The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health Division announces that March 5-11, 2023 has been designated National Groundwater Awareness Week.  This annual observance has been established to highlight the responsible development, management, and use of groundwater.  Life, as we know it, would be impossible without groundwater.  It is the world’s most extracted natural resource.  Don’t take groundwater for granted.  Therefore, this week is also a platform to encourage yearly water well testing and well maintenance.

National Groundwater Awareness Week was designed to urge each of us to consider various ways to protect our most valuable natural resource.  So remember things like not running water while you brush your teeth; getting that leaking faucet fixed; and the farmers that rely on groundwater to grow the food we eat.  And remember to have your well inspected to protect your drinking water system.

The Health Department Environmental Health Services staff states, "Through National Groundwater Awareness Week, we would like to recommend to area residents that maybe it's time for your annual water well checkup!"

Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries seasonally, spring is a good season to have an annual water well checkup before the peak water use season begins, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).

Why is it a good idea to have my water well checked annually?  "The truth is an annual checkup is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water," say Department officials.  "Also, preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance, like good car maintenance, can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. NGWA further recommends you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, or appearance, or when the system is serviced."

Schedule your annual water well checkup.  Wells can provide high-quality drinking water, and about half the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells. But with well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order.

The Health Department also recommends that well owners:

    Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a "clean" zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.

    Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.

    Maintain your waste water systems.

    Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.

    Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.

    Make sure abandoned well are sealed properly within 30 days of abandonment.

For more information on the Health Departments' Water Program, water testing and sealing abandoned wells, contact the Environmental Health Division at or call (309) 852-0197 Extension 270.  You can also visit our website at or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us On Twitter and Instagram.

May 11

May 11th 2023 State Ends Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration

Posted to General Blog by Kiah Weston

Heroes Day Full Group 3

CAPTION FOR ATTACHED PHOTO: The staff of the Henry and Stark County Health Departments don their “I Am Public Health” T-Shirts in celebration of May 11, 2023 designated by the Governor as Illinois Public Health Heroes’ Day.  May 11th marks the end of the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration.  

The Henry and Stark County Health Department and Henry County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reminds area residents that on May 11, 2023 the Covid-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration ends.  Therefore, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have declared May 11, 2023 as Illinois Public Health Heroes’ Day.

Duane Stevens, Henry and Stark County Health Department Public Health Administrator states, “We should all pause and give heartfelt thanks today, after more than three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, to all those public health and health care heroes who rose to the challenge and risked their own lives to protect the rest of us from the deadly virus. When so many were locking down and staying safe at home, those heroes were on the front lines. They were administering tests, caring for the sick that filled our hospitals, and staffing vaccine clinics that offered us protection from sickness. We owe every one of them a huge debt of gratitude.” 

“During the very darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, our public health and health care heroes risked their own lives to care for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans in hospitals across the state at a time when our ICU wards were being overwhelmed,” adds Governor Pritzker. “And once the life-saving vaccines were developed and made available, thousands of IDPH and local health department heroes as well health care heroes across the state mobilized to deliver more than 26 million, life-saving COVID-19 vaccinations to people in every corner of the state.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Sameer Vohra states, “It is fitting today as we formally end the Public Health Emergency that we pause to reflect on the truly heroic efforts of the thousands of public health workers, including those at IDPH and in our local health departments, as well as the healthcare workers in our hospitals and clinics. Their bravery and fortitude in the face of this overwhelming public health crisis is a gift to cherish and appreciate.  As we write the next chapters in the story of public health in Illinois, we look forward to their continued leadership and guidance to help address inequities and promote health throughout our great State.” 

Stevens concludes, “This does not mean Covid-19 has disappeared – it is still active in the state causing hospitalizations and deaths every week.  Rest assured the Henry & Stark County Health Departments and the Henry County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will stay vigilant and continue to track the impacts of the virus.  However, today is a great day and we ask all local residents to join us in celebrating our Health Department and OEM Public Health Heroes!”

Click to watch a special video honoring our Public Health Heroes!