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Diana Cook, North Carolina

Diana Cook, North Carolina

As a veteran volunteer with the American Heart Association, Diana Cook has been involved in a myriad of ways with the organization over the years. As a Charlotte Heart Walk team leader, she led her work team several years in a row – and every year provided countless volunteers to help with the walk. As a You’re the Cure Advocate, and as a NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, she has volunteered for countless National and State Lobby Days, trainings, and advocacy opportunities.

There is more to Diana than just her volunteerism. She has experience personal loss at the hands of cardiovascular disease and stroke. After losing her father to emphysema, then a dear friend who had just turned 40 passed away due to a sudden stroke two weeks later, she spent a long time of wondering why her friend’s symptoms had gone misdiagnosed. Diana connected with Betsy Vetter and found her passion with AHA and a home with You’re the Cure. As her work with YTC began, Diana was able to join the Smoke-Free Mecklenburg team as a co-chair, and worked with that initiative promoting smoke-free both locally and then at the state level. It was her friend, and her father, who kept Diana engaged with the American Heart Association and kept her inspired to make a difference.

If you were to ask Diana why she volunteers with the AHA, she would tell you that beginning with her Heart Walk experience and including her time as an advocate with You’re the Cure, her experience has become personal. "Advocacy was the "rescue," if you will, that I needed during a traumatic time after my Dad and best friend died," she says. "It helped me to put my energy into something positive that honored them at the same time.  The experience was effecting a positive change for our state of North Carolina to get smoke free restaurants passed and providing vital information to women on heart and stroke disease."

It is advocates like Diana, who join us in You’re the Cure and see what an infinite difference they make in the lives of those around them, that make our network as strong and as passionate as it is. Thank you to Diana, and to all of our advocates, for making a difference and saving lives.

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When The Surgeon General Comes To Town…

A special thanks to our guest writer, Dr.Sandra Burke of Charlotte, for her contributions to this story!

Recently, the American Heart Association in the Greater Charlotte Region had an excellent opportunity to share its Health Priorities with the newly named U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Dr. Murthy is undertaking a nationwide listening tour to determine first-hand how his office can best address public health issues, based on initiatives that are currently working effectively in local communities.  Key representatives from healthcare organizations across the region gathered at Care Ring (formerly Community Health Services) in Charlotte to participate in this 2-hour forum.  In his introductory remarks, Dr. Murthy stressed the importance of working together and sharing best practices, and feels that the most effective way to achieve this goal is to hear how organizations are making an impact on public health challenges they face in their communities.  

Dr. Murthy asked each of the nearly than 30 attendees to speak for 2 minutes, and to share how each organization was working to impact public health.  Dr. Sandra Burke, a member of the Greater Charlotte Board of Directors, represented the AHA during this session, and provided an overview of the key issues that resulted from our recent Community Assessment process.  She discussed the two specific areas where our board members and AHA staff feel we might make the biggest impact.  These include our efforts to strengthen tobacco control in North Carolina by protecting the state’s smoke-free law from efforts to weaken it, increasing excise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products and restoring funding to tobacco use and prevention and cessation programs.  She also discussed our focus on improving worksite wellness by changing procurement policies at both the local and state levels and providing healthy vending and food service initiatives.  Finally, she touched on our efforts to increase access to healthy foods through healthy corner store initiatives, and of particular importance, the efforts to ensure that all North Carolinians have access to health care by expanding Medicaid.

The latter effort was stressed by a number of participants in the forum, including Madison Hardee, a staff attorney from Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont, who discussed the fact that one of their biggest challenges is the fact that NC has still not expanded Medicaid.  Similar sentiments were expressed by Dr. Steven Keener, Medical Director for Mecklenburg County, who participated on behalf of Dr. Marcus Plescia, County Health Director.  In response to Dr. Murthy’s emphasis on the importance of coalitions to impact healthcare across communities, Ms. Hardee described a coalition of organizations called Get Covered Mecklenburg, which provides outreach to low income families that need access to affordable health care.  Krsiten Wade, Assistant VP of Clinical Services at Carolina Healthcare System, provided input on MedLink of Mecklenburg, a collaboration of healthcare providers with community clinics embedded in neighborhoods to deliver a variety of services to diverse populations who might otherwise have issues with transportation in seeking healthcare.  Another interesting and important approach was described by Ed Connors, CEO of Heudia Health, who has received a small business innovative research grant from the Department of Agriculture to develop a technology to address community healthcare.  Launched in Lenoir County, NC and piloted in Charlotte with Dr. Michael Dulin, a primary care physician at Carolinas Healthcare System, Heudia Health uses a mobile navigator to assist people in finding healthcare services when they have barriers, including lack of adequate insurance, and limited knowledge regarding how to seek healthcare. 

Overall, the forum was an impactful session that allowed not only Dr. Murthy and his staff to hear about local community health efforts, but enabled those interested in improving health of all citizens to hear of other innovative solutions currently underway around the region.  We were privileged to be a part of that process!

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Stroke Center Designation Rules Approved!

On January 15, 2015 the NC Rules Review Commission approved new stroke center designation rules by unanimous vote.  These rules were developed as the result of Session Law 2013-44 Designate Primary Stroke Centers that was signed into law on May 8, 2013.  The rules include designation for acute stroke ready hospitals, primary stroke centers and comprehensive stroke centers.

The NC Stroke Advisory Council and You’re the Cure advocates worked together with the Department of Health Service Regulation and Office of Emergency Services to develop the rule language.  As a result of a great team effort the rules were perfected and presented to the Rules Review Commission for approval on January 15, 2015 where they were unanimously approved. 

Peg O’Connell, Vice-Chair of the NC Stroke Advisory Council, member of the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Council and You’re the Cure member stated, “Six years ago, I lost my dear husband and our Insurance Commissioner Jim Long to a severe stroke.  I know what it means to lose someone you love in such a sudden and tragic way, but we were fortunate because when Jim's stroke occurred, we knew what to do and where to go.  Everyone in our state needs to have this knowledge.

It has been a journey in North Carolina to build strong stroke systems of care.  Many people have come together to ensure that all North Carolinians, regardless of location can access quality acute stroke care and I was proud to be part of that effort.  These rules are a critical part of our state’s stroke system of care and inform both EMS and the public where stroke centers are located in the state.”

North Carolina already required EMS authorities to have transport protocol plans and procedures and now with the addition of designating all three tiers of stroke centers became the second state in the country to take this step in establishing strong stroke systems of care.

Many thanks to all the You’re the Cure advocates that supported this effort.  You are making a difference!

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New maps provide insight on access to supermarkets in New York State

For millions of people around the country—many of them children—the fast choice is the only choice when it comes to food.  Newly created maps paint a picture of the problem.  View below to see maps outlining supermarket sales and income data in New York State.  Additional blog posts on yourethecure.org outline supermarket sales and income in New York City, Syracuse and Buffalo.

 

 

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EMS Transport Protocols Bill Passes to House Floor!

Justin Bell (AHA), Buck McAlpin (MAA) and Rep. Nick Zerwas were up at the Capitol yesterday when House File 513 passed out of HHS Reform Committee and made its way to the House floor! The bill updates EMS protocols for stroke patients and includes the newly designated stroke hospitals across MN so that when minutes matter, stroke patients can get to appropriate facilities faster. Thank you Rep. Nick Zerwas for authoring this important legislation!

 

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Last Chance to Register for the MN Legislative Breakfast!

The Minnesota Legislative Breakfast is coming up next Wednesday February 18th at the Kelly Inn!  Register now to join advocates from Minnesota to speak with legislators in a strong, unified voice about the importance of acute care issues when treating heart disease and stroke. During this event you will have the opportunity to learn more about our system of care policy efforts and speak to lawmakers about the importance of supporting a strong statewide system of care to treat stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Breakfast is included. No cost to attend but advanced registration is required.

Don't miss out on this great even and register here now or call Jess at (952) 278-7928.

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Heart attack care initiative expands to Iowa with $4.6 million Helmsley grant

The American Heart Association announced that it has received a $4.6 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to support the AHA’s Mission: Lifeline initiative in Iowa.

"This is a great day for rural health in Iowa, and especially for heart patients and their loved ones," said Kevin Harker, executive vice president of the AHA’s Midwest Affiliate. "Thanks to the vision and generosity of the Helmsley Charitable Trust and our other contributors and collaborators, we will be able to better coordinate heart attack care across the entire state, which will mean better outcomes for patients and more lives saved."

Launched in 2007, Mission: Lifeline works to improve coordination between local hospitals and EMS providers to shorten the time to lifesaving treatment for patients who have a type of heart attack called ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).

Hundreds of thousands of Americans each year experience STEMI, in which blood flow is completely cut off to a portion of the heart. The more time it takes to open the blocked artery, the more damage is done to the heart muscle.

In rural America, the vast landscape and sparse healthcare resources have made it difficult to deliver fast treatment to STEMI patients.

"Mission: Lifeline ensures that the community, EMS providers and the health system are integrated and work seamlessly," said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. "Through Mission: Lifeline, we’re working to change the fact that 30 percent of STEMI patients don’t receive treatment. Of those who receive [artery-opening treatment], less than half are treated within the recommended 90 minutes."

The Helmsley Charitable Trust has provided funding in recent years for other Mission: Lifeline initiatives in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana. This latest contribution for Iowa brings the Trust’s total Mission: Lifeline commitment to $36.8 million.

Nationally, Mission: Lifeline includes 835 hospitals, clinics, EMS agencies and first responders that cover nearly 83 percent of the U.S. population. Recognized Mission: Lifeline systems of care can be found using a nationwide map.

"We are seeing improved patient outcomes from Mission: Lifeline implementation," said Brown. "When everyone involved works together to do what’s best for the patient, everyone wins, because lives are saved."

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American Heart Month in New Hampshire

You’re The Cure advocates make a difference in the lives of others by simply making our voices heard and reaching out to our lawmakers about public policy regarding heart health. For instance, one such success in New Hampshire was passing a law to require a simple Pulse Oximetry test be performed on every newborn to screen for possible life threatening congenital heart defects. When detected early, treatment can begin early, saving precious lives. This American Heart Month, we celebrate not only medical advances that have helped reduce deaths from heart disease and stroke, but also public policies which help NH citizens live heart healthy, stroke-free lives. But there is still much we can do – by training high school students in CPR and improving our schools’ nutrition environments – we will save many more lives, now and into the future.

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Making the Commonwealth Heart Healthy and Stroke Free in 2015!

We have a number of legislative priorities this year that will help us work towards building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.  We are excited about the number of opportunities we have and we appreciate your ongoing support to outreach to your elected officials. Here are what we will be working on over the next two years!

  • Support policy that would develop a Coordinated Stroke System of Care to improve the treatment of the stroke patient SD#785 and HD#1029 sponsored by Senator Montigny and Representative Cusack.
  • Support policy that require 150 minutes per week in elementary school and 225 minutes per week of physical education in middle school SD#332 sponsored by Senator McGee.
  • Support Policy that would provide healthy vending options in all state and municipal owned buildings HD#2021 sponsored by Representative Kulik.
  • Support policy that clarifies liability rules for the use of school owned recreational facilities for the purpose of physical activity HD#677 sponsored by Representative Michlewitz. 
  • Support policy that that would development and implement a reimbursable telemedicine program SD#803 sponsored by Senator Montigny.
  • Support policy that would require all public schools to have AED’s SD#841 sponsored by Senator Montigny.
  • Support policy that addresses e-cigarettes by modernizing tobacco control and protecting the health of minors HD#2015 and SD#1200 sponsored by Representative Sanchez and Senator Chandler
  • Support policy that would keep people healthy by removing barrier to cost-effect care HD#1690 sponsored by Representative Farley-Bouvier. 
  • Support policy that require expansion of comprehensive cessation coverage HD#272 and SD#1460 sponsored by Representative Linskey and Senator Donoghue
  • Support policy that would fund state tobacco cessation and prevention programs HD#913 sponsored by Representative Gregoire.

 We look forward to working with you this year on these important lifesaving issues.

                                                    

 

                                        

 

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Dr.Bob Blackburn, North Carolina

Dr. Bob Blackburn, North Carolina

Dr. Blackburn started his career as a volunteer with the American Heart Association in 1973.  In a nutshell, why did he get involved? He was working with students and saw the impact tobacco was taking on their lives.  The tremendous need for our youth to have better health started him on a path that he has followed for more than forty years.

Dr. Blackburn took his passion and turned it into reality by creating a heart health training center at Gardner Webb University, where he was teaching.  At the same time he became more involved with the AHA helping on various committees and wherever he could make a difference.  He served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Affiliate of the American Heart Association in 1991, and on the NC Board from 1990-1994.

He has served on the national steering committee for Jump Rope for Heart and been a long time member of the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee.  From 1973 to now, he has stayed true to one theme: improving health for students through prevention.

When asked what was the one moment that rose above the rest, he responded it came in the late seventies when he worked with the AHA to create a curriculum for physical education teachers’ called "Putting your Heart in the Curriculum."  He said it was a great experience that included a visit to AHA’s National Center in Dallas.

With more than forty years as a volunteer, Dr. Blackburn has witnessed a number of remarkable policy advances including NC’s smoke-free law. 

Dr. Blackburn is a native of North Carolina.  He is retired now and reports that his favorite things to do are spending time with his grandchildren, walking, and being with others.  Retirement hasn’t meant slowing down as a volunteer.  Dr. Blackburn says the work must continue because major challenges still exist and his commitment to prevention and the AHA mission remains strong.

He ended the conversation with some wisdom he’s gained along the way:

· Don’t burn bridges and don’t get mad at your legislators, two years from now you may need them.

· See the big picture and keep moving forward.

· You can make a difference – stand up and advocate!   

On behalf of You’re the Cure and the American Heart Association, thank you Dr. Blackburn for your advocacy! 

 

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