American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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2014 Heart on the Hill a Success

April 2 was our Minnesota Heart on the Hill. We had 38 volunteers at the Capitol to meet with legislators. Our issues this year included asking for $6 million for Safe Routes to School infrastructure, AED registry, and comprehensive transportation funding that includes designated funding for active transportation. All told, volunteers had 58 individual meetings with legislators (that’s over ¼ of the Legislature!). Plus volunteers had many more contacts with staff and personal notes left where legislators were unavailable. Packets were dropped at the offices of all 201 legislators including more than delivered more than 700 petition cards in support of the SRTS and AED bills.

 We also held a walk as part of our Capitol Rotunda Rally to celebrate National Walking Day—we had over 60 participants including Sen. Senjem, Sen. Pappas, Sen. Kiffmeyer, Sen. Nelson, Rep. JoAnn Ward, Rep. Halverson, Sen. Franzen, Rep. Hortman, Rep. Clark Johnson, Rep. Bly, and delivering the keynote address was MnDOT Commissioner, Charlie Zelle.

Thank you to all of our great volunteers who attended and staff partners who helped make this a great Heart on the Hill day!  Make sure you check out photos from  the day on our Facebook page here.

Also check out the great media coverage of our event here in the media section.

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A Heartfelt Thanks

Each year, we like to pause and give thanks during National Volunteer Week (April 6th-12th) for the amazing contributions of volunteers like you.  We know you have a choice when deciding which organization to dedicate your time and talents to and we’re honored you’ve chosen to contribute to the American Heart Association’s mission.  Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to meet many You’re the Cure advocates in person to say ‘thanks’, but since getting together isn’t always possible, I wanted to share this special video highlighting the progress you’ve made possible.

(Please visit the site to view this video) 

You’ll see we are making strides to create smoke-free communities across the country, develop the next generation of life-savers trained in CPR, and ensure all students have healthy meal choices in schools.  The effort you’ve made to contact your lawmakers, share your story, and spread the word through your social networks have led to those successes and more. In fact, in just the last eight months, You’re the Cure advocates have helped contacted local, state, and federal lawmakers more than 140,000 times and it’s these messages that can lead to policy wins.

So take a moment to pat yourself on the back and enjoy a job well done!  I look forward to continuing our efforts to pursue policy changes that will help build healthier communities and healthier lives for all Americans. We couldn’t do it without you – thanks!

- Clarissa

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Share Your Story: Bernard P. Friel

Bernard P. Friel Mendota Heights, MN

On February 27, 1969 at the age of 38, I suffered a myocardial infarction, a heart attack, that I was not expected to survive. I spent a week in the CCU unit, and 3 more weeks in the hospital. Angiograms indicated a significant block in the anterior descending coronary artery.

No surgical procedures were available in 1969 except the “Vineberg” which my doctor and the Mayo clinic thought inadvisable. Instead they prescribed a change of lifestyle, and with their help and that of the then Minnesota American Heart Association my wife changed our diet, and I embarked on an exercise program.

I ran my first of 5 marathons in 1976. I had always been an outdoors person, but my improved health motivated me to become involved in a basic running program eventually consisting of 50 miles per week.

In the late 1970s I undertook to do some extensive wilderness backpacking. By 1980 I became involved in whitewater and ocean kayaking and river rafting. Eventually I participated in 4 private trips down the Grand Canyon, one of which I led, and on two of which I rowed one of the rafts.

In my late 50s and early 60s I began serious mountain climbing, summiting Mount Rainier twice in my early 60s (having failed once in my late 50s) and Mount Kilimanjaro at 67.  Also in my 50s, 60s and 70s I served as a crewmember on a 57-foot ketch for periods up to a month sailing in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the North Atlantic.

In my early 70s I led a raft trip from the Brooks Mountains to the Arctic Ocean in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Through the years since the heart attack I have also led over 25 canoe trips in the Quetico wilderness of Ontario, the most recent being in the late spring of 2013.

One other undertaking of note was a 10-day mission to Papua New Guinea in 2007 where our mission group was successful in locating four aircraft lost there in the deep jungles during WWII.
While the change in lifestyle provided me with a variety of experiences I might not otherwise have undertaken, it had positive consequences in my professional life as a lawyer as well. In 1972 I organized the municipal bond department in my law firm, Briggs and Morgan P.A. , from which I have been retired since 2001.

Now in my 84th year I continue to be in excellent health and still lead a vigorous life style. I bike and walk and have a program of other exercises. The years of long distance running provided me with excellent collateral coronary circulation around, what tests show, is still significant arterial narrowing. The running eventually cost me a knee replacement (an easy trade for a heart replacement) which has unfortunately curtailed my running, and cost me some weight gain.

Throughout these 45 years, I have had annual checkups with my cardiologist, often involving a stress exercise test, because I did not wish to undertake any foolish risk, and I have not had a single event that would even suggest any coronary risk or issue.

Several years ago I put together a motivational program utilizing my love for photography and my skills and coronary history entitled “A CHANGE OF HEART, taking charge of your health for a long, healthy, vigorous and more satisfying life”, which I have presented numerous times to a variety of audiences.

My life experience over the last 45 years is due in no small part to a doctor who was ahead of the curve in recognizing the bad effects of cholesterol, and the benefits of exercise, and a diet low  in fat, and the helpful dietary information then available only from the American Heart Association. My doctor, 10 years my senior, often referred to me as his “Poster Child” for lifestyle change and recovery, and when he passed away 2 years ago I was honored to provide a eulogy at his funeral.

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Minnesota Department of Health Minnesota Stroke News Update - Minnesota Stroke System Launch, March 2014

Minnesota Stroke System Newsletter

March 2014

Spring is finally here! You know what that means: walking outside without a winter coat; the singing of birds; and, of course, the launch of the Minnesota Stroke System! After months of preparation, we are ready for implementation.  The first phase of system rollout is the designation of hospitals by the Minnesota Department of Health. Applications will be accepted beginning March 17, 2014.  In this month’s newsletter, we’re going to post answers to questions that we’ve been getting from hospitals as they prepare for designation.

Question Corner

Q: Where do we go to apply?


Q: Our hospital is not certified by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. Can we apply for Primary Stroke Center designation from the state?

No. Only hospitals that are currently certified by a national accreditation body as Primary Stroke Centers or Comprehensive Stroke Centers may receive those same designations from MDH. In addition, MDH will designate those hospitals at the same TJC or HFAP certification level.

Q: I’m at a certified Primary Stroke Center or Comprehensive Stroke Center. Will I need to submit an application?

Yes. All hospitals must complete an application in order to be recognized by the State of Minnesota stroke system.

Q: For criteria #8 – "A neurosurgery coverage plan, call schedule, and a triage and transportation plan" – does our documentation need to include the actual call schedule? Those schedules change a lot!

No. The intent of this criteria is that the neurosurgical group that you have an agreement with has a clear plan for 24/7 coverage. We do not need to see the actual call schedule. Your documentation needs to demonstrate to MDH simply that you have an agreement and a plan in place with a tertiary care hospital and/or neurosurgical service.

Q: We’re a Primary Stroke Center that is providing neurosurgical services to several hospitals. Can we provide the same letter to them?

Yes. We expect that multiple Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals will have agreements with the same Primary Stroke Center (and the neurosurgery group that services that hospital).The letter just needs to be signed by both your CEO and the CEO at the acute stroke ready hospital.

Q: Criteria #4 states that our ED personnel need to be trained in stroke. Who should be trained?

The intent of this criterion is that staff in your emergency department who will be directly involved in triaging, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring the patient should be keeping up to date with stroke treatment guidelines. We leave who that is to your discretion.

Q: How much training should our ED personnel receive?

The Brain Attack Coalition recommends a minimum of four hours of education on stroke every year for the key staff in the emergency department. We encourage at least four hours per year for your staff, but we will not be collecting information about contact hours from you.

Q: Our emergency department is usually staffed by mid-level providers, not physicians. Will that negate our ability to be designated?

No. We recognize that several hospitals have licensed independent practitioners in lieu of physicians staffing their emergency departments. We expect these providers to be trained to carry out stroke protocols and utilize other resources (e.g., consults with off-site stroke experts) as available to them.

Q: If we have a transfer protocol with a hospital, are we bound to send every patient to that hospital? What if the patient prefers to go elsewhere?

The intent of the transfer agreement is so your hospital has a plan in place to efficiently get the patient out the door. This criterion does not require all of your patients to go only the hospital with which you have a transfer agreement. If the patient wishes to go elsewhere, that’s fine – we just want you to have a process in place to move the patient quickly.

Q: Does our "designated medical director" need to be a physician?

No. He or she can be any professional who will champion and lead the stroke program at your facility. The responsibilities are many – to ensure that your protocols are up to date, staff are adequately trained, data are reviewed, and that you are continually improving your care processes. This role can be played by anyone who has the commitment to actively champion your stroke work.

Q: What is the deadline for applying?

The first deadline is April 1, 2014. However, you can submit your application at any time. We don’t "close" the system to new applications at any time. We’re just going to be issuing designations on a quarterly basis.

Q: Will we have to re-apply every year?

No. Each time you are designated, you’ll be good for a three-year period.

Q: Does getting designated automatically enroll us in the stroke registry?

No. The Minnesota Stroke Registry Program is a separate (but related) quality improvement program. Please contact us for information about joining!

Contact Us:

System/Program Information:

Albert W. Tsai, 651-201-5413

Stroke Readiness/Performance Improvement:

Megan Hicks, 651-201-5436

Minnesota Department of Health


P.O. Box 64882, St. Paul, MN 55164-0882

Delivery: 85 E.7th

Place, Ste. 220 St. Paul, MN 55101


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Childhood Obesity Legislative Working Group Releases 2014 Recommendations

On Monday, the Childhood Obesity Legislative Working Group (COLWG) held a news conference to release their 2014 legislative recommendations. The event featured group co-chairs, Rep. Bob Dettmer and Rep. Kim Norton, as well as authors from the bills the COLWG endorsed. They also released a report providing background on the group and its current endorsements. You can access that report hereCOLWG's 2014 endorsements include:

  • Support the Safe Routes to School program with $6 million in bonding for infrastructure including sidewalks and improved pedestrian crossings. (Sen. Franzen SF687/Rep. Hortman HF797)
  • Require that Minnesota Department of Education prepare a report on the status of physical education in Minnesota schools including quality and quantity of physical education. (Sen. Kent 2207/Rep. Norton HF 2672)
  • Expand access to free school lunch by eliminating the 40 cent fee currently paid by working class poor families for a reduced-price lunch. (Rep. Selcer HF2480/ Sen. Hayden SF146)
  • Provide $65,000 for an Amateur Sports Commission Childhood Obesity Pilot program. (Sen. Johnson SF2511/Rep. Hortman HF1573)

The Minnesota News Connection ran a story for American Heart Association on the release of the COLWG report. The story featured the PE report and Safe Routes to School with comments from Rep. Dettmer and Rep. Norton. Read the text and listen to this story here.

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Register Now for Minnesota's Heart on the Hill

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Register here for this free event

Join other advocates to speak with Minnesota legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of fighting heart disease and stroke. Advocate for the following issues:

  • Promote physical activity to reduce heart disease with funding for Safe Routes to School and bike/pedestrian investments  
  • Improve access to lifesaving Automatic External Defibrillators by developing a statewide registry of all public access AEDs for location and maintenance

Attend workshops and trainings and then put your skills to the test when you meet with your state legislators.  Meetings will be schedule on your behalf.  Breakfast and lunch will be included. There is no cost to attend this event but advance registration is required.  Register NOW.

The morning portion of this event will take place at the Kelly Inn, 161 St. Anthony Ave., St. Paul, MN and the afternoon portion of the day will at the state capitol.  Parking will be available at no cost at the Kelly Inn all day.

Please contact Anne Simaytis, Regional Grassroots Advocacy Director at with questions.

We can't wait to see you at the event!

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Share Your Story: Jamie LaLonde

Jamie LaLonde Bloomington, MN

My name is Jamie LaLonde I'm 20 years old and when I was 18 I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest while working in the Mall of America. 

I was working and I asked to take my break early which was unusual for me to do. On my way to the break room where I would have been alone, I fainted and started having what looked like a seizure. Mall security was on the scene very quickly and started giving me CPR when they realized I had no pulse. Where I was working was located very close to one of the Bloomington Police offices in the mall and a police officer who just happened to be medically trained was there with an AED within 5 minutes to shock me, twice. Once I had a pulse the EMT's took me to the hospital where I was put in a medically induced coma for 3 days and then transferred to a different facility where the cardiology department ran tests and decided the best course of action was to give me and ICD.

After hearing what happened to me I have to admit I did a lot of googling because I didn't know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest and I didn't know it could happen to anyone. My biggest health problem before this was the occasional fainting, although I don't have Long QT syndrome. After I saw the survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest, I was shocked that I'd never learned much about it before or that the only time I'd ever seen an AED was in Grey's Anatomy. My friends didn't even understand what happened to me and kept calling it a heart attack. I feel like more people NEED to be taught what to do and how to tell what's going on, especially young teens. The people I was working with could have started CPR instead of holding me because they thought I was having a seizure.  I was lucky to be in such a public place with medically trained people so close by but if everyone was that lucky the survival rate would be much higher. It's important for people to be informed especially about things that can happen to anyone. We had a drunk driving or drugs talk at my high school every quarter, so why not add something new that kids don't learn or hear about every day?  I am very excited to have worked on passing the Minnesota CPR in Schools law in 2012 – a law requiring all high school students to be trained in CPR and AED use prior to graduation – so we are creating the next generation of life-savers in the state and working to increase those very low sudden cardiac arrest survival rates!



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You're Invited to a Safe Routes to School Webinar

Join other advocates across Minnesota to learn about Safe Routes to School (SRTS) policy. Register NOW!

Safe Routes to School Webinar
Friday, February 28, 2014
Noon to 1 p.m.

Hear what’s happening in Minnesota and nationally regarding SRTS policy from our expert presenters:   

  • Dorian Grilley, Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
  • Jill Chamberlain, Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Minnesota and Minnesota Safe Routes to School Coordinator
  • Rachel Callanan, American Heart Association

This training is free, but advanced registration is required. Please register here or contact Anne Simaytis at to reserve your spot by Feb. 27. Once you have registered you will receive confirmation materials including the call-in and log-in information.  

Thank you for your continued support to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke!  

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Move MN Unveils Transportation Reform and Funding Package to Lawmakers

The 150 member Move MN coalition says the balanced, sustainable package will address the state’s significant transportation needs and bolster economic competitiveness

St. Paul, Minn. – The state’s economic progress is at risk of being derailed by billions of dollars in unfunded transportation needs according to Move MN, a statewide coalition of more than 150 organizations advocating for making transportation an urgent funding priority this legislative session. Today, the group unveiled a transportation funding package it says will fund critical projects in a balanced, sustainable and equitable way.
“Minnesota is falling out of medal contention on transportation. We’re not taking care of what we have—roads and bridges—and we’re not adapting fast enough to meet growing demand for transit, bicycling and walking options,” said Barb Thoman, executive director, Transit for Livable Communities. “Last year, 10 states passed comprehensive transportation funding with bipartisan support—including Virginia, Nevada, and Wyoming. The Move MN proposal is about making sure our businesses and our working families have a shot at success.”
The package was unveiled during a joint meeting of the House and Senate transportation committees. Representatives from Move MN presented details about its funding recommendations while citizens from around the state testified to underscore the urgency of passing a package in 2014.
“With each passing year, our state’s economic competitiveness is diminished as critical transportation projects go unfunded,” said Margaret Donahoe, executive director of the Minnesota Transportation Alliance. “We’ve heard from every part of the state that transportation is the number one issue impacting the ability of everyday Minnesotans to get to work and to school, or for businesses and farmers to get products to market. What we’ve put forward is a sustainable transportation funding package that recognizes that this is a statewide need, and that we are all in this together.”
A Move MN Transportation Funding Package
In order to address the inadequacies of our current system and realize the progressive system of the future, Move MN proposes that any new funding for transportation must meet these core principles:
· Any transportation funding package must be comprehensive to address, roads, bridges, transit and bike and pedestrian infrastructure.
· Any transportation funding package must equitably balance the transportation needs of Greater Minnesota and the metro, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the suburbs, and the east and west metro.
· Any transportation funding package must be a long-term, sustainable funding solution and ensure that funding is dedicated to transportation.
In accordance with these principles, Move MN announced its support for a package that includes the following: 
Greater Accountability and Transparency in Transportation
Move MN is committed to making sure there is greater efficiency and transparency with transportation projects, in addition to finding new funding sources that meet long-term obligations for all modes. 
Close the leased vehicle sales tax loophole
In 2006, Minnesota voters overwhelmingly supported a constitutional amendment to dedicate the existing motor vehicle sales tax to transportation. Unfortunately, the constitutional amendment did not dedicate sales tax revenue from leased vehicles to transportation. In 2008, the legislature attempted to close the loophole but only a portion of the tax was dedicated to transportation and the other portion to the general fund.
Minnesota’s current budget surplus provides a unique opportunity to finally close the leased vehicle sales tax loophole and make critical investments in transportation. Move MN proposes dedicating all of the leased vehicle sales tax to highway and Greater Minnesota transit funding. Doing so would provide $32 million in new transportation funding without raising one penny in new taxes. 
One Cent for Transit and Bike-Pedestrian Infrastructure
The ¼ cent metro sales tax has helped build the new Green Line (Central Corridor) and the new Newport Transit Station, and fund the cost of operating the region’s transitways. The current sales tax is not enough to build the transit system our region needs. Move MN proposes increasing the current sales tax by ¾ cent, applying the sales tax in all seven counties and using a small portion of the tax to fund safe and accessible bike and pedestrian connections in the metro. The seven-county sales tax for transit would become one cent and generate $335 million in new revenue annually.
The additional transit funding would complete the current Met Council transit plan within 15 years, bringing new LRT and rapid bus lines across the entire region. The new funding also would mean increases in the Metro Transit and suburban transit bus systems, as well as a wider network of bikeway and pedestrian connections.  
New sales tax on wholesale fuel
Move MN proposes a new 5 percent sales tax on wholesale fuel. Unlike the per-gallon fuel tax, the wholesale fuel sales tax, also known as gross receipts, will generate additional transportation funding as the price of fuel increases. Minnesota’s current gas tax would remain the same. The new sales tax would be administered at the wholesale level and is projected to raise more than $360 million annually in new transportation funding.
The wholesale fuel sales tax also ensures transportation funding keeps up with the cost of inflation. The cost of road and bridge construction in Minnesota is higher than the national average. In fact, construction costs have increased by 70 percent since 2004.
Minnesota would join a growing number of states that have a sales tax on fuel, including Virginia and Pennsylvania that both passed a sales tax in an election year. Today, nearly 20 states have a sales tax on fuel or a tax on fuel suppliers. 
Allocating existing flexible federal funding for Greater MN bike-pedestrian infrastructure
Like the leased vehicle sales tax, the Minnesota legislature can allocate existing funding to meet our changing transportation needs. According to a statewide poll, more than 90 percent of Minnesotans believe future transportation projects should integrate biking and pedestrian connections with highway and transit projects.
There is substantial need in Greater Minnesota for safer and more accessible bike and pedestrian infrastructure. More than 70 communities around Minnesota are nearing completion of their Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) plans and another 40 communities are just kicking off their SRTS planning process. Likewise, more than 50 Greater Minnesota communities have expressed interest in MnDOT’s Main Street Enhancement Projects. The state can expect that this local work will lead to more demand for infrastructure investments.
In addition, it’s proven that construction of pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure creates jobs. In fact, for each $1 million in bicycling or pedestrian infrastructure, 10-11 non-construction related jobs are created.
By allocating $16 million in the flexible federal funding from the Surface Transportation Program that MnDOT receives each year, we can afford to invest in bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout the state. This infrastructure is closely tied to our state’s economic competitiveness and quality of life. Bike and pedestrian connections make our communities healthy, vibrant and livable, which in turn attracts businesses and talent and safely connects our families to their destinations.

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SRTS In-District Meeting a Success

Litchfield Safe Routes to School (SRTS) advocates, Olivia Wicklund (front right) and Ron Nicholson (front left) met with Rep. Dean Urdahl Feb. 7th to discuss SRTS in the bonding bill. It was a productive visit! Also pictured are Dorian Grilley and Michelle Breidenbach from the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.

We have several additional upcoming opportunities where you can get involved on this issue and advocate for funding Minnesota’s SRTS Program.  We are looking for volunteers to help us with the following:

  • Attend an in-district meeting with your lawmaker.  Before the 2014 session starts, we are working hard to meet with key legislators to make the case for funding this very important program.  Join your fellow passionate advocates at these meetings right in your home district with your legislators.  We will help you prepare for this meeting by providing talking points and holding a short pre-meeting training so you feel comfortable making the ask of your legislator.
  • Write a Letter to the Editor on the importance of Safe Routes to School funding.  Help us spread awareness for this issue by penning a letter to the editor to your local paper making the case for the legislator to fund this program this session.  And don’t worry, we can help you craft and submit a great letter.
  • Attend lobby day April 2, 2014.  We also invite you to join us for the American Heart Association’s Heart on the Hill Lobby Day where we will be meeting with lawmakers about funding Safe Routes to School at the capitol. Register for this free event here.

If you are interested in helping out one or more of these opportunities, please contact Anne Simaytis at

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