Monthly Archives: May 2017

2016 Health of Chatham Report Released

2016SOTCHengThe 2016 Health of Chatham Report is now available online and at the Chatham County Public Health Department in both English and Spanish.

The annual report provides updates on progress and status of the health priorities identified in the 2014 Community Health Assessment: obesity, access to mental health services, and access to healthcare.  Many efforts around these priority areas are led by the Chatham Health Alliance, which has played an active role in improving health in Chatham since its inception in March 2015.

Additional topics in the report include the Chatham County tobacco-free grounds policy, a new partnership between the Health Department and Piedmont Health Services, and mosquito and tick-borne illness prevention efforts.

To view the report, visit

For more information about the Chatham Health Alliance, visit


Worksite Wellness Chatham Obesity Prevention Toolkit Available Free to Chatham Employers

On Monday May 8th, the Chatham Health Alliance launched Worksite Wellness Chatham, a free worksite wellness toolkit aimed at obesity prevention. The toolkit was developed with feedback from Chatham County employers and in conjunction with the University Of North Carolina School Of Public Health, Health Behavior Master’s Capstone program.

Obesity is a preventable chronic disease associated with increased sick leave, absenteeism, risk of developing breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and stress. In the 2014 Community Health Assessment, obesity was identified as the number one health issue in Chatham County, with nearly 1 in 3 Chatham residents classified as obese. Factors underlying obesity include modifiable behaviors, including eating habits, physical activity, and diabetes management.

Research suggests that well-aligned, comprehensive worksite wellness programs are proven to improve these health behaviors and reduce obesity. In addition, worksite wellness programs have broad reach, and engaging the top five employers in Chatham County would reach almost 1 in 6 of Chatham’s residents.

Employees participating in worksite wellness programs benefit in a number of ways, including working in a safe and healthy work environment, reduced stress, improved morale, increased job satisfaction, increased skills for health protection, and overall improved health.

Not only do employees participating in worksite wellness programs benefit from participation, but employers benefit as well. Worksite wellness has been proven to improve employee productivity, reduce organizational turnover, and increase healthcare cost-saving through reduced absenteeism, disability leave, and decreased workers’ compensation costs.

The Worksite Wellness Chatham toolkit includes 1) a brief summary of the current evidence supporting worksite wellness, 2) an introduction to several free, ready-to-use programs, 3) recommended policy and environmental changes that impact worker health, and 4) a review of related local resources that are available free of charge to all Chatham employers. The toolkit can be downloaded at or a paper copy can be requested from the Chatham Health Alliance at or 919-545-8443.

In addition to the toolkit, the Chatham Health Alliance is offering support and technical assistance in establishing worksite wellness programs. This includes conducting employee health needs assessments, setting up worksite wellness teams, using the Worksite Wellness Chatham toolkit, and planning for program sustainability.

If you are interested in using the toolkit, contact the Chatham Health Alliance at or calling 919-545-8443.

Worksite Wellness Chatham is an initiative of the Chatham Health Alliance, a community coalition working to improve health in Chatham County. To learn more about the Chatham Health Alliance visit


As Tick Activity Increases, Chatham County Public Health Department Hosts Tick Forum


Tick forum panelists, left to right: Bruce Harrison, Steve Seagle,
Marcia Herman-Giddens, Ken Knight, and Graham Hickling

On Friday, April 28th, the Chatham County Public Health Department, with leadership from the Board of Health, hosted the 2017 Tick Forum to discuss issues around ticks and tick-borne illness in North Carolina, with a focus on Chatham County.  The event featured presentations by local, state, and national experts on these issues and was well attended by local and regional residents and stakeholders interested in learning more about mitigating tick-related issues.  Presentation topics included tick-borne illness burden in North Carolina, history of ticks, deer population management, impacts of deer management on tick-borne illness, and land use impacts on the tick population.

In Chatham County, tick-borne illnesses are a major concern, with Rocky Mountain spotted fever topping the list each year.  Other tick-borne illnesses found in Chatham include Lyme disease, Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), and ehrlichiosis.  Summer is fast approaching and people are spending more time outdoors, so it is important for everyone to take precautions to protect against tick bites.

What can you do to protect yourself from these dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases? The North Carolina Division of Public Health encourages the following activities to help protect against illness caused by ticks:

  • Avoid tick habitats, which includes wooded, grassy, or brushy areas.
  • If you can’t avoid a tick habitat, use tick repellent and wear light-colored clothing, long sleeves, and long pants.  Tuck your pants legs into your socks.
  • Check yourself and your kids for ticks when returning from being outdoors. Be especially watchful around the waist, the groin, and the neck.
  • If you see an attached tick, carefully remove it by grasping the tick with fine-tipped tweezers as close as possible to your skin and apply a steady gentle pressure until it releases. The Chatham County Public Health Department has tick kits available that include tweezers and important information related to ticks.
  • After safely removing the tick, document the location of attachment, the day the tick was removed, photograph or save the tick by taping it to an index card so it may be identified if you fall ill, and watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever.  If you experience these symptoms, see your health care provider and let them know you were recently bitten by a tick.

While it is not possible to prevent all cases of tick-borne illness, you can greatly reduce your risk by following these basic control measures.

To learn more about ticks or to watch videos of the Tick Forum presentations, visit