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KSB Hospital meets the community’s health education needs while keeping patients safe

As the pandemic crisis heads into its seventh month, the beginning of 2020 seems a distant memory and doing what was considered “normal” isn’t a current option.

Health organizations nationwide strive to keep their communities informed about their health and to provide options to improve individual well being. In Dixon,  Katherine Shaw Bethea Hospital (KSB) is no different as they offer frequent and  ongoing health education,  enhancement,  and fitness opportunities through the KSB Community Wellness Department. .  Before Covid, these events would occur on various days and times and depending on the size of the event, they would be held at either the KSB Lovett Center or other locations such as the Dixon Elks Lodge, Dixon Historic Community Theatre, KSB Town Square Centre or the Dixon Post House.  Depending on the topic,  Community Wellness events attracted from a dozen individuals for a support group meeting to over 30 for a presentation on education for topics such as Women’s Health or Brain Health.

The last health programming events that could be attended in person were  in late February and early March as a  part of the KSB Brain Health series.  But once the Illinois Governors “Stay at Home” order was issued in  March and detailed safety guidelines were put in place, these wellness events had to quickly go in another direction.

The new direction was virtual programming that allowed for KSB programming to continue via a digital platform available to participants on their home computer,  tablet, or smart phone.

In early July, KSB resumed their Brain Health Series knowing that what people needed the most right now was help in coping with the unsettling  times.  KSB kicked off their first virtual presentation via Zoom and streaming to Facebook Live on the 7th of the month.  The feedback from the community showed the success of the topic chosen – “Why We Need Resilience Now More Than Ever”.   In late July, KSB decided to move into their Five Senses series and try out the idea of offering both the virtual option as well as allowing people to attend the hospital program in person.  The virtual option won hands down!

Because of the pandemic and wanting to meet the community’s needs, many presentations have revolved around both the physical and mental aspects of COVID safety. Along with the Brain Health Series, other programs presented have featured “Cancer Care 101” and “What Else Does an Oncologist Do” in the Cancer Care Series as well as “Treating Allergies” and “20/20 Eye Care” in the Five Senses Series.  Programming will continue throughout the rest of the year in all three of the categories  as well as other topics that the community will find helpful and relevant to their lives.

“It’s exciting to move into the world of virtual presentations.  It has allowed KSB Community Wellness to really escalate our programming efforts and offer even more to the area residents that  we are fortunate to serve,” shared Nancy Varga, Director of Community Wellness.

The virtual events show the public embracing this method of wellness education. While the number of peak viewers during the live events hasn’t always been large, the people who did watch stayed on for the whole event. The statistics also show strong audience engagement with the presenter throughout the program.  Another plus is that the live and recorded events are consistently published later on the KSB website where they continue to be viewed and used as a tool for wellness education.

Knowing that many families are currently under added stress as their children return to school in pandemic times has allowed other opportunities for KSB.  KSB is working with pediatric mental health professionals in providing support videos for parents and students as well as working in partnership with the Lee County Health Department and Dixon Public Schools to offer a Saturday “Babysitting Academy” for children ages 12 to 18.

Another advantage to the virtual presentations has been the ability to assist local employers in the area which was uncovered when a local manufacturing company reached out to Varga in  regard to required wellness education for their employees.  The area Human Resource Director shared her frustration in not being able to help the employees with this requirement because  most wellness education presentations had been cancelled due to Covid.  Varga quickly shared the virtual options available through KSB Community Wellness and together they worked on a plan to ensure the employees attendance would be documented by the department and sent to the employer for verification.

KSB’s Community Wellness Education programs allow the public to learn about chronic health conditions and diseases that need to be addressed, prevented and treated. The field of public health is essential for learning to maintain the community’s health not only as individuals but as a whole and for the remainder of 2020, KSB will continue to do education presentations via Zoom,  Facebook Live and prerecorded sessions. As the pandemic crisis fades, the wellness programs will again return to in-person presentations with a virtual offering as well.  “We are finding that people enjoy the virtual option, especially in the cold months or inclement weather.  They still receive the education they need but in the convenience of their home”, shared Varga. “And that’s what KSB is all about – we are here for the patient, giving them the care and education they want – when they want it and in the way they want it.”


To find upcoming CWE events, go to KSBHospital.com/Events or facebook.com/KSBHospital. To see past recorded events, go to KSBHhospital.com/medical_services/wellness/.