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updated: 10/27/2013 7:22 AM

Schaumburg aims to better employees' health, lives

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  • Schaumburg Police Officer Frank Russo, who died Nov. 1, 2008, shared his love of martial arts with children Frank Jr. and Teresa.

      Schaumburg Police Officer Frank Russo, who died Nov. 1, 2008, shared his love of martial arts with children Frank Jr. and Teresa.
    courtesy of Jenny Russo

  • Frank and Jenny Russo on their wedding day. "That (expression) is so Frank," Jenny said.

      Frank and Jenny Russo on their wedding day. "That (expression) is so Frank," Jenny said.
    courtesy of Jenny Russo

  • Purple bunting hangs from the Schaumburg police station in November 2008 in honor of Frank Russo, 47, a Schaumburg police officer who died after suffering a heart attack chasing and struggling with a suspect.

      Purple bunting hangs from the Schaumburg police station in November 2008 in honor of Frank Russo, 47, a Schaumburg police officer who died after suffering a heart attack chasing and struggling with a suspect.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Frank Russo

      Frank Russo

 
 

It's been five years since Schaumburg Police Officer Frank Russo died from undiagnosed hypertensive cardiovascular disease while trying to apprehend an unruly customer being ejected from a nightclub after midnight on Halloween 2008.

The 47-year-old Russo, a 19-year veteran of the force, was believed to be in sound health -- he was a martial arts black belt, scuba diver and weight lifter who didn't have high cholesterol.

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Now, an employee health initiative started by the village of Schaumburg since Russo's death aims to make it easier for workers to learn about such hidden physical problems and seek improvement in all aspects of their lives.

"We do have a wellness committee," Schaumburg Benefits and Wellness Manager Jeff Garber said. "We consider it a well-being committee."

The Healthy U Committee organizes not only health risk assessments and biometric screenings, but programs and events to improve the social, financial, career and community facets of their lives.

While Russo's death was not the inspiration for the committee, one can only wonder whether it could have made a difference if it were around five years ago, Garber said.

The results of health screenings are sent confidentially to participating employees, and the village gets aggregate results. From those, it can see the number of employees that have some type of metabolic syndrome.

The employee is able to seek help for a health issue, while the village has a reduction in sick time and a better handle on its expected insurance costs, Garber said.

Apart from purely physical health matters, the Healthy U Committee organizes employee picnics, opportunities for greater involvement in the community and help with personal financial planning and career advancement.

Russo will be honored with a service at 9:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 -- acknowledging the start of his old midnight shift on the anniversary of his death -- at the Public Service Memorial in front of the Schaumburg police station at 1000 W. Schaumburg Road.

His family will be presented with a commemorative street sign that will designate Hammond Drive as Officer Frank Russo Way. The sign will be installed at the corner of Hammond Drive and Algonquin Road, in Russo's longtime beat.

Russo is Schaumburg's first and only police officer to die in the line of duty.

At the time of his death, mourners remembered Russo as a man who put family above all else.

He acted not only as a father figure to his sister's kids but raised his own children -- Teresa, now 20, and Frank Jr., now 22 -- on his own for many years after his first wife, Francine, died of breast cancer.

Russo met his second wife, Jenny, when the German-born au pair was hired to help care for the children.

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