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New Ulm Medical Center

HeartBeat Connections program is a call to action

Residents of New Ulm looking for a way to prevent heart attacks find support in their quest to get healthy through a telephone-coaching program offered by Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project and the New Ulm Medical Center.

Through monthly phone coaching sessions, the HeartBeat Connections program helps individuals improve risk factors which could lead to a heart attack. “This program provides a unique opportunity for individuals to connect with a health professional to discuss things that affect their heart health, like nutrition, blood pressure, cholesterol and activity,” said Gretchen Benson, RD, CDE, healthcare project manager for the Heart of New Ulm. “It’s an education and support program for people wanting to make lifestyle changes to get healthier and serves to provide supplemental support in between regular office visits.”

The program, now entering its second year and free to residents of the 56073 zip code area, selects individuals based on data from their electronic health records, as well as referrals from primary care providers. If an individual signs up for the program they receive monthly 20 to 30 minute phone calls where the coach and individual talk about their progress in the last month and makes plans for the month ahead.

“We’ve definitely had several success stories. Program data to date has found that participants are more active, eat more fruits and vegetables and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than when they started,” said Benson.

The calls are designed to help individuals with their specific needs, so if a patient is trying to lose weight or lower their cholesterol, the call is designed to focus on those areas.

“All of our phone coaches have experience with phone-based coaching, so they know how to tailor calls to an individual’s wants and needs,” Benson said. “For some patients they need a call once a month or once every two months to get them on track. For others they might have three or four calls and say ‘I have what I need to achieve my goals.’”

She said the program is completely flexible and has room for more participants in 2012. “To date we have had more than 350 individuals participate. We hope more people take advantage of the program this year,” she said.

If you think you may be a good candidate for the HeartBeat Connections Program, let your primary care provider know. They may refer you to the program.