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Local residents can help track national issues

CDC picks Whiteside County for exams, survey

STERLING – Whiteside County residents will have a rare chance to help identify health issues for the nation this summer.

In collaboration with the Whiteside County Health Department and other local agencies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will send a team of about 40 to interview and physically exam selected county residents of all ages, races and genders.

It’s part of the larger National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, used to determine the overall health of the nation’s population.

It’s a rare chance for Whiteside County – only 15 counties nationwide are selected for the study each year.

Through the information gathered, the CDC uses a complex statistical method to get a broad sense of how healthy US residents are and where problem areas may appear.

Gessi Rincon of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was in Sterling Wednesday to give an overview of how the survey will be conducted and a timeline for the many area agencies that will help publicize the survey, especially to the elderly population.

“We want to make sure the elderly are aware of what’s going on, because what we do can appear like a scam and we’ve always taught the elderly to be aware,” Rincon said.

“Here is some strange person showing up at their door, and then they start asking questions about their health. So if they hear we’re coming from a local person, then they’re more likely to trust us.”

That fits right in with what local agencies try to do in building awareness of programs that can benefit county residents.

“We play a strong role in identifying programs that will benefit the community, and we have the Elder Scam program here, so it ties in nicely,” said Diana Verhulst, CEO of the United Way of Whiteside County.

County Health Department Administrator Beth Fiorini said her department will play a major role in helping to make sure the survey is successful. The CDC will set up its mobile exam trailers at the department’s Rock Falls clinic, and Fiorini will help coordinate the outreach campaign to get the word out about the survey.

The survey team will arrive on May 15; interviews will start May 18. Addresses that are selected to participate will receive a letter informing them that an interviewer will be stopping by, Rincon said.

On June 7, the mobile exam trailers will be set up at the health department for an open house; the exams start June 8. Those participating in the entire process will receive cash payments – $125 for adults, $90 for children.

The survey should be concluded around the end of July, Rincon said. He hopes to get about 340 people to participate.

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