NEW ULM - Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) and New Ulm Medical Center recently received a 2014 Community Benefit Award (small hospital category) from the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA). The award was presented at MHA's awards banquet held in Minneapolis on April 25.
The Annual Health Care Awards honor individuals who have offered dedicated service to hospitals and organizations that have implemented successful, innovative programs.
The Heart of New Ulm Project is a 10-year initiative to significantly reduce heart attacks among residents. It is a collaborative partnership of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Allina Health's New Ulm Medical Center and the community of New Ulm.
Toby Freier, president of New Ulm Medical Center, said, "Rising health care costs and greater demand for quality outcomes are challenging hospitals and health care systems everywhere to develop population health approaches focused on prevention, improved chronic disease management and wellness activities. The partnership between New Ulm Medical Center and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation has enabled the Heart of New Ulm to be innovative in its approach and demonstrate quality outcomes."
Since the project started five years ago, the data show significant improvements in the health of residents. From 2009 to 2011, New Ulm made bigger improvements than Minnesota in the rates of acute heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
In addition, electronic health record data from NUMC comparing 2008-09 to 2012-13 shows that among adults age 40-79, the percent with blood pressure within the recommended range increased from 79 to 84 percent; the percent with LDL ("bad") cholesterol within the recommended range increased from 68 to 72 percent; and the percent with total cholesterol within the recommended range increased from 58 percent to 65 percent.
These blood pressure and cholesterol improvements are particularly notable because they represent larger improvements than trends being seen in the rest of the country.
HONU also is working on community health improvement initiatives in Springfield and Sleepy Eye through The Heart of Brown County Project.
These efforts are funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and led by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation in collaboration with Allina Health and Brown County Public Health.
These organizations have been working together in two areas: 1) Providing education to county residents and decision-makers about the health, economic, social and safety benefits associated with Complete Streets in Brown County, and 2) Expanding the SWAP IT to DROP IT health promotion campaign previously conducted in New Ulm to grocery stores and convenience stores in Sleepy Eye and Springfield. The campaign promotes making simple changes (or SWAPs) to save just 100 calories each day and help people lose weight and improve their health.