When the snow melts and the grass turns green again, homeowners often get the urge to begin working in the yard or garden. Maybe the husband and wife go to a nursery and select a tree to plant in the yard. Maybe they stop at Home Depot to look at the samples of wood fence to enclose the backyard. The kids would love to have a swing set or, better yet, a tree house. Each of these projects requires digging in the ground.

Have you ever thought about what is buried in the ground of a typical subdivision? Storm sewers, sanitary sewers, natural gas lines, electrical wires, telephone lines, cable wires, water lines. If the homeowner accidentally punctures or severs one of these underground lines, the results could be catastrophic.

State law requires that you notify JULIE at least two business days (excluding weekends and holidays) before any digging project regardless of the project size or depth. Even if you are digging in the same location as a previous project, you must notify JULIE.

To notify JULIE, call 8-1-1 or 1-800-892-0123. Call center agents are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. There is no charge for this service. According to, you will be asked to provide the following information when you call:

  • Your name, address, a phone number at which you can be reached, an email address and a fax and/or pager number, if available
  • The location of the excavation will take place, including county, city or unincorporated township, section and quarter section numbers if available, address, cross street (within ¼ mile), subdivision name, etc.
  • Start date and time of planned excavation
  • Type and extent of excavation involved
  • Whether the dig area has been outlined with white paint, flags or stakes

You will be given a dig number that identifies specific information about your locate request. It is important that you keep this number as proof that you contacted JULIE.

JULIE does not own or mark underground lines. Instead, JULIE notifies the utility companies so that they can mark your property. The utilities use the following colors of flags, stakes, or paint to mark the underground lines:

  • Red – Electric
  • Yellow – Gas, oil or petroleum
  • Orange – Communications
  • Blue – Potable water
  • Purple – Reclaimed water, irrigation
  • Green – Sewer
  • White – Proposed excavation
  • Pink – Temporary go to https://survey


An underground line may actually be within 18 inches of either side of the marked line. This is called the tolerance zone. Use extreme care when digging within 18 inches on either side of the utility marking. Digging by hand is recommended within the tolerance zone.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video called Digging Dangers 24: Strike Three! Excavation Accidents YouTube, go to



Twenty-five years ago, Bill and his wife and their six children had gone to have dinner with Grandpa at his home. Seated around the kitchen table, they all enjoyed the Kentucky Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, biscuits, and gravy. The room was filled with chatter and laughter. Then suddenly, something radically changed. Grandpa seemed confused. He was having trouble understanding what others were saying. It was as if he could not hear.

No one in the room recognized this as a stroke. No one knew that sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, sudden difficulty walking, or loss of balance and coordination were all signs of a stroke. No one knew the importance of getting the stroke victim to a hospital immediately. They only knew that one minute Grandpa was fine, and at the next minute things had radically changed.

It was obvious that Grandpa could not stay in the house by himself. If he could not hear, he would not be able to talk on the telephone. He could not use the phone to call for help in an emergency. He would not be able to hear the doorbell ringing. He would not be able to speak with someone who came to the door.

The dilemma that families in this situation face is immense. Immediate family members may work or have young children at home. Some immediate family members may live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Placing the stroke victim in a nursing home is a very expensive option. The stroke victim’s family and the stroke victim himself often would prefer that the individual be able to continue to stay in his own home.

What services are available to help a stroke victim recover? Rehabilitative therapy usually begins in the hospital, often within 24 to 48 hours. When a patient is ready to be discharged, a hospital social worker will help develop a plan for continuing rehabilitation and care.

Some patients go to a skilled nursing facility when they are discharged. Others go to a setting specializing in rehabilitative therapy. Others return home directly.

Piecing together care in the home can be difficult. Family members and retired nurses and individual Certified Nursing Assistants may be able to cover the shifts, but it is a challenge to find them on your own. In addition, what happens if someone is sick or on vacation? Who takes care of paying the employees? Using an agency such as American Home Health definitely has its advantages.

Agencies such as American Home Health can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), or Registered Nurses (RNs). American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee.

For further information, go to, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski



It was a Friday afternoon, February 4, 1977, just a little after 5:20 P.M. Office workers in Chicago’s central business district called “The Loop” were headed home. Many rode the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) elevated trains: the Ravenswood, the Lake—Dan Ryan, and the Evanston Express.

The elevated tracks formed a rectangular pattern above Lake Street, Wabash Avenue, Van Buren Street, and Wells Street. In 1977, three lines operated on the Loop. Each line operated in a different direction. Wikipedia, “1977 Chicago Loop derailment,” describes the situation: “The Ravenswood Line operated counter-clockwise around the loop, while the Evanston Express operated clockwise opposite from the Ravenswood trains. The Lake—Dan Ryan Line operated in both directions, but only used the Lake and Wabash legs of the Loop.”

On this day, a switching issue forced dispatchers to reroute the Evanston Express to run counter-clockwise around the Loop instead of its normal clockwise route. This put the Evanston Express on the tracks normally used by the Ravenswood and westbound Lake—Dan Ryan. The Ravenswood train would have to stop short and wait for the Evanston Express to clear the tracks before it could proceed. Likewise, the Lake—Dan Ryan would have to stop and wait for the Ravenswood to clear the track before it could proceed.

At approximately 5:25 P.M., a Ravenswood train was stopped on the tracks, just past the northeast turn, waiting for the Evanston Express to clear the State/Lake platform. The Lake—Dan Ryan approached the Ravenswood train, but it neglected to stop. Instead, ignoring both track and cab signals, it proceeded and bumped into the Ravenswood train.

What happened next could have been a scene from a horror movie. After the initial impact, the operator of the Lake—Dan Ryan train continued to apply traction power. Therefore, the rear cars of the Lake—Dan Ryan train continued to push forward. That pinned the front of the train against the waiting Ravenswood on the right-angle turn of the track. The pressure from behind caused the coupling bar between the first two cars to bend. The coupled ends of these first two cars were pushed up into the air. Then the third car was forced upwards until the three train cars jackknifed and fell off the tracks. The first train car fell onto a track support structure. The second and third cars fell all the way to the street below. The fourth car dangled between the track and street. The last four cars remained on the tracks, still in the Randolph/Wabash station.

Eleven people were killed, and more than one hundred and sixty were injured. The cause of the crash was determined to be operator error.

—By Karen Centowski

To see the video “El Crash Chicago 1977 (ABC News Special Report)—You Tube,” go to



If you are still paying cash for your groceries or fast food or anything else, you have probably received change and lots of it. Sometimes it feels like a conspiracy to take away your fives and tens and twenties and fill your pockets with pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. How does this happen?

Blame sales tax for part of your grief. For example, if you buy an item for $12.99 and you have to pay sales tax at the rate of 8.25%, you are paying $1.07 in sales tax. That makes the total $14.06. You receive $.94 in change to weigh down your purse or fill up your pocket. Say you are at Jewel-Osco and purchase $68.69 worth of MightyVine tomatoes, kiwi, chocolate Easter eggs, orange juice, cinnamon rolls, paper products, and Pepsi, you will pay .66 sales tax at the $1.75 rate plus 2.82 in sales tax at the $8.25 rate for a total of $71.11. That means the cashier hands you $.89 in change. More pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters!

What can you do with all of this change? Sometimes a store will offer you the chance to donate the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters to a good cause. For example, ACE Hardware offered the customer the opportunity to round up the bill to the next highest whole number and donate that change to a charity ACE had chosen. Therefore, if you paid $12.27 for a new sump pump hose, you could pay $13.00 in cash and donate the $.83 to the charity. Everybody wins!

It is no accident that the Salvation Army bell ringers stand next to the exit door at Jewel during the Christmas holiday season. Sit in the parking lot and watch what happens. When a customer comes out of the store, he passes near the bell ringers. Many customers reach into their pockets and pull out cash and change to throw into the kettle. That gets rid of the change and helps a good cause, too.

Maybe you go home, empty out your pockets, and throw the change into a container such as a large jar or coffee can or empty plastic Coke bottle. Maybe you use an empty plastic water jug. One man threw his change into a five-gallon bucket in his bedroom closet. Individually, the coins seem almost worthless.

Five or six years later, you look at all this loose change you’ve been hoarding. You sure could sure use some cash to go on vacation. Why not use this stash of change? How can you get it converted to cash?

First, check with your bank where you have a checking or savings account. Will they convert the change into cash for you? Is there a fee? Do you have to roll the coins in paper sleeves? According to, not all banks will accept the loose change. In fact, the U.S. Department of the Treasury does not require that banks take your stash of coins. Why not? Coins take up room, and they are heavy to transport. Counting machines are expensive to own and maintain.

Some grocery stores have counting machines in the front of the store. According to the article, Coinstar machines, which can count up to $3,000, are the most popular. The machine will count the coins and give you a voucher to redeem for cash at the store’s register. Expect to pay a fee of 10.9 per cent or more.

—By Karen Centowski

To see a video “COWPOTE BROADCAST June 5, 2012 called “Save your change and you will be rich,” go to

Free IV CLASS at American Home Health

Free IV CLASS at American Home Health

In this class we will cover the following:

  1. Peripheral IV Insertion
  2. Central Venous Line Access (CVL)
  3. Port-A-Cath

Date: April 19, 2018
Time: 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
Instructor: Cynthia McKenna, Clinical Manager
Cost: Free
Address: 1660 N. Farnsworth Ave., Suite 3, Aurora, IL 60505


  1. Phone: 630-236-3501
  2. Web: (Description: “RSVP for IV Class”)




When recent media stories focused on Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and his history of sexual harassment, the reader might have dismissed this as more Hollywood “trash.” Surely this type of behavior does not occur in other occupations such as nursing. Wrong! In fact, home health nurses often deal with sexual harassment by patients.

On December 20, 2017, Medscape conducted an online poll of nurses. According to an article entitled “Me, Too! For Home Care Providers,” “73% of nurses polled said that they had been sexually harassed by patients.” The harassment could have been anything from offensive jokes and sexual comments to inappropriate touching.

Why would this occur so frequently in home health? The article, “Me Too! For Home Care Providers,” says that the conditions are right for this to occur. Home health nurses provide care in the homes of the clients. The nurse is often alone with the client. The client is on his “home turf” and may feel emboldened to act inappropriately. Sometimes the client’s medical condition may impair his ability to behave appropriately. For example, the client may have suffered a stroke which has affected his behavior.

Both federal and state laws forbid sexual harassment. The article “It’s Not Just Hollywood: Sexual Harassment in Nursing” at lists the following steps a nurse can take when a patient behaves inappropriately:

  • Set boundaries early. What can begin as a seemingly innocent joke can quickly escalate to an onslaught of sexual commentary.
  • Make it clear the attention is unwanted. Sometimes changing the subject or an unamused look isn’t enough to get your point across.
  • Report the harassment to your supervisor. They may be able to reassign the patient to another nurse.
  • Do not be alone with the patient. If you are unable to have the patient reassigned, bring in a coworker.

It is very important for nurses to document every instance of sexual harassment by a patient. The documentation must be very specific. “Me, Too! For Home Care Providers” gives the following example of documentation on the case of inappropriate touching: “The patient touched my left breast.”

After receiving a report of sexual harassment, the supervisor and upper management will investigate the situation and take necessary action. This may include reviewing clinical notes, interviewing other nurses on the case, and counseling clients and care-givers. Every part of the investigation must be documented.

If it is possible that the client’s behavior may be caused by a clinical condition such as a stroke, the supervisor and upper management need to contact the patient’s physician to seek assistance. It may be necessary for the provider to discontinue services to the client.

—By Karen Centowski