NEW ULM, Minn.
Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) and New Ulm Medical Center, part of Allina Health, recently received a 2014 NOVA Award from the American Hospital Association (AHA). The award was presented at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Diego in July.
Established in 1993, only five AHA NOVA Awards are given nationwide each year. The award recognizes hospitals and health systems for their collaborative efforts toward improving community health. The Heart of New Ulm Project is being honored this year for demonstrating how hospitals and health organizations working with partners in the community can improve the health and wellness of the people and patients that hospitals serve.
"We are pleased to honor this year's AHA NOVA winners that through collaboration provide for the community through education, outreach and so much more to improve health and wellness," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. "The hospitals involved in these programs know the power of collaboration and the positive community health changes that can be achieved when organizations work together."
The Heart of New Ulm Project is an award-winning, innovative 10-year initiative to significantly reduce heart attacks among residents in the community of New Ulm and is a collaborative partnership of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Allina Health's New Ulm Medical Center and the community of New Ulm.
Jackie Boucher, senior vice president and chief operating officer for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, said, "We’re very honored to have the project recognized with this prestigious award. It affirms the work we've been doing throughout the community, as well as in worksites and the clinic, to help educate and empower people who live or work in the community to improve their health and create environments that support healthier lifestyles."
Toby Freier, president of New Ulm Medical Center, added, "Collaboration between New Ulm Medical Center and the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and among a very broad spectrum of stakeholders in New Ulm has been key to the project's success. Over the past several years, the project has become sort of a fabric of our community. We've seen tremendous buy-in on a true partnership, which is essential for creating a sustainable culture of health."
Since the project started five years ago, the community culture in New Ulm has transformed in significant ways to support healthier lifestyles, and the data show significant improvements in the health of community 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. According to Boucher, these blood pressure and cholesterol improvements are particularly notable because they represent larger improvements than trends being seen in the rest of the country.