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

Sep 20

Sexual Health Awareness Month

Posted to Clinic Blog by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments and our First Choice Healthcare Clinics in Kewanee and Colona note that September is Sexual Health Awareness Month.  Sexual Health Awareness Month is an annual observance held throughout September to raise awareness about the importance of sexual health and well-being. The reasons behind observing this month are manifold:

  • Promoting Safe Practices.  One of the primary goals of Sexual Health Awareness Month is to educate individuals on the importance of practicing safe sex. It’s an opportunity to discuss the use of contraceptives, including condoms and birth control, to prevent unintended pregnancies and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Breaking Stigmas.  Sexual health issues often carry a significant societal stigma, which can discourage individuals from seeking help or information. By observing this month, we aim to break down these stigmas, create a safe space for discussions, and encourage open and honest conversations about sexual health.
  • Empowering Individuals.  Education is a powerful tool for empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their sexual health. 

With these goals in mind, Sexual Health Awareness Month is an opportune time to remind area residents that the First Choice Healthcare Clinics offer confidential:

  • STD Testing for Males and Females
  • Treatment of STDs
  • Contraceptive Supplies
  • Free Condoms
  • Preventative immunizations against such STDs as Hepatitis B and HPV ~ Counseling, Education, and Referral 
  • Expedited Partner Treatment

Though the subject of one’s sexual health may not be a comfortable healthcare issue to discuss, we want people to remember that our First Choice Healthcare locations in Kewanee and Colona are sources of confidential testing, treatment, and education.   And we are literally just a phone call away.  People should know we offer the tools and services people need to stay healthy.

For more information or appointments call First Choice Healthcare at (309) 852-5272 (Kewanee) or 792-4011 (Colona).

Oct 02

National Food Safety Education Month

Posted to Environmental Health by Kiah Weston

The Henry and Stark County Health Departments' Environmental Health Division announces that September has been designated National Food Safety Education Month.  National Food Safety Education Month focuses on new technologies, trends, and regulations that are changing the foodservice landscape and the steps everyone should take to ensure that food safety remains a top priority when dealing with these changes. 

 The Environmental Health Staff with the Health Department state, “National Food Safety Education Month is the one month out of the year dedicated to food safety education.  This year we would like to remind the community to ensure you and your family are purchasing food from licensed, reputable businesses who follow health department guidelines.  We continually conduct routine food inspections, and now residents are able to view these inspections on our website and check if someone is indeed licensed.”

 Food Safety Education Month also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about steps each of us can take to prevent food poisoning and show others how to keep food safe.  Every year, an estimated 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from eating contaminated food. Anyone can get sick from a foodborne illness (also called food poisoning). But some groups of people are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness. These groups are:

  • Adults aged 65 and older
  • Children younger than 5
  • People with health problems or who take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness
  • Pregnant women

There are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. As you prepare and handle food, follow these four steps:


  • Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often when you cook.
  • Separate: Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs. Separate them from cooked food and fresh produce.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to an internal temperature that kills germs.
  •  Chill: Refrigerate perishable foods and leftovers within two hours. Chill within one hour if it’s above 90°F.

For more information on food safety contact the Health Department at (309) 852-0197 or email us at or visit our website at or find us on Facebook at Henry and Stark County Health Departments or Follow Us on Twitter and Instagram.

Nov 15

Thanksgiving Food Safety

Posted to General Blog by Kiah Weston

    It's that time of year again - Thanksgiving.  And the staff of the Henry and Stark County Health Departments note as cooks across the country ready themselves for this annual feast day, handling poultry incorrectly and undercooking it are the most common problems that lead to foodborne disease outbreaks.  To better guarantee that your Thanksgiving holiday is a healthy one, the Health Department offers up some helpful "Turkey Tactics:

  1. Thaw Your Turkey Safely
  •  In the refrigerator in a container; start early and thaw turkey in a refrigerator or in a place where the air temperature is no higher than 40° F. A 20-pound turkey will take about three days to thaw completely in a refrigerator.
  • In a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes); or
  • In the microwave, following the microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions.

Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter. A thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, its temperature becomes unsafe. Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F.

Do not wash or rinse a raw turkey.  Federal food safety advice has recommended against washing turkey or chicken since 2005, but some habits are hard to break.  Old recipes and family cooking traditions may keep this practice going, but it can make you and your family sick.  Poultry juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops.

  2. Handle Your Turkey the Right Way

Raw poultry can contaminate anything it touches with harmful bacteria. Follow the four steps to food safety—clean, separate, cook, and chill—to prevent the spread of bacteria to your food, family, and friends.

  • Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling turkey.
  • Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey.
  • Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surface that previously held raw turkey.
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing turkey and before you prepare the next item.

   3. Cook Stuffing Thoroughly

Cooking stuffing separately from the turkey in a casserole dish makes it easy to be sure it is thoroughly cooked. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, put the stuffing in the turkey just before cooking.

With either cooking method, use a food thermometer to make sure the stuffing’s center reaches 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F and may then cause food poisoning. If you cook stuffing in the turkey, wait 20 minutes after taking the bird out of the oven before removing the stuffing; this allows it to cook a little more. Use a food thermometer to check for a safe internal temperature.

   4. Cook Your Turkey Thoroughly

Set the oven temperature to at least 325°F. Place the completely thawed turkey in a roasting pan that is 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep.  Cooking times will vary depending on the weight of the turkey. Use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Check by inserting a food thermometer into the center of the stuffing and the thickest portions of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. Even if your turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should still use a food thermometer to check that it is safely cooked.

Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat.

For more information on food safety, call the Health Department Environmental Health Division at (309) 852-0197 Extension 222 or email.