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Update on the Legislative Session

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

We are in the final stretch of the Utah State Legislative Session and things really look to be heating up! What will be the final fate SB 164 “Healthy Utah”? Are e-cigarettes finally going to be treated like all other tobacco products?

While we won’t know the answers to these questions until next week, I’d like to take a step back and congratulate our many volunteers for their efforts at our recent “Heart on the Hill” Lobby Day!

My sincerest thanks to all those that were able to attend and to IASIS Healthcare for their sponsorship! This year IASIS provided health screenings to legislators and the public as well as lunch for our volunteers and the legislature. During our training session our volunteers had an opportunity to hear from a diverse range of speakers who are local experts in their related fields including:

  • Dave Gessel from the Utah Hospitals Association who shared his emotional story of witnessing his own mother suffer a stroke. Dave was fortunate to be in a position to recognize her symptoms and get her to the hospital in time. Our thanks to the UHA for their ongoing efforts to ensure that stroke treatment in Utah continues to be the very best. We look forward to working with them and the Department of Health in the coming months to see that Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals receive state recognition.
  • Tim Best from Davis School District who taught us about their innovative approach with “Healthy Bodies – Healthy Minds.” This program enhances children’s learning as teachers utilize physical activity through their lessons. Results from pilot schools have shown an amazing increase in student health and test scores as well as improved student behavior and less absences!
  • Representative Raul Ray joined us to discuss his tie to the American Heart Association. He was born with severe congenital heart defects. He also explained his fight against tobacco use in our youth and his efforts this year to ensure that e-cigarettes stay out of schools and are treated as other tobacco products.
  • Professor Chaney and some of his BYU Students presented on their work on Safe Routes to School. They have been working with a number of elementary schools throughout Utah County to identify problematic areas around schools that might put children at risk as they travel to and from school. You can follow their social media efforts by following #SafeRoutesUT. Special thanks to Benji Lambson, Kaylee Banner, Danny Doria, Maranda Christiansen, Kelsey Hamstead, Rachel Harris, Josinah Gachia for their efforts.
  • Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox joined us to present on the Governor’s “Healthy Utah” plan. He spoke with our volunteers about the importance of engaging our legislators and letting them know how we feel about this issue as their constituents. In light of recent actions by the State House of Representatives in voting down the "Healthy Utah 2.0" plan passed by the State Senate, this truly underscores the need for all of us to get involved! For more on how you can help with this effort, please visit our You’re the Cure Action Page.
  • Dr. Ben Schmidt is an Emergency Physician from IASIS Health Care’s Salt Lake Regional Hospital. He shared first-hand accounts of individuals performing CPR and the success that comes from bystanders administering it right away. This work truly saves lives and underscores the importance of our efforts to help all people learn CPR.
  • We recognized Linda Mayne and Cybil Prideaux as our Volunteers of the Year for 2015. Linda and Cybil both work for the Utah State Office of Education and have been very instrumental in the success of rolling out our CPR in Schools efforts! Please reach out to your local High School to make sure they are participating in this core curriculum training.
  • Lastly, Speaker Greg Hughes joined us to share some of his best tips on how to be effective citizen lobbyists. His number one takeaway was the importance of developing relationships with our legislators - and not just during the legislative session.

My thanks again for all who were able to attend! Thank you all for your efforts to drive our life-saving mission forward.

*Note: This was submitted before the end of the legislative session. Check back next month for a full review of the final status on these and other issues.

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Seventy Percent of NC Voters Support Funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On February 24, the NC Alliance for Health (North Carolina’s statewide coalition working on obesity and tobacco use prevention) released a statewide survey that shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, a similar majority says that state and local governments should provide training and incentives to encourage neighborhood stores, where people often shop for groceries, to stock healthy foods.

"According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors," said Sarah Jacobson, Healthy Food Access Coordinator for the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and You’re the Cure advocate. "This clearly demonstrates that it is time to stop talking about this issue and start doing something about it," she said.

"Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove a barrier to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization," said Jacobson.

The poll also found:

· More than 90 percent of registered North Carolina voters recognize childhood obesity and unhealthy eating as a serious problem
· Seventy-six percent of registered North Carolina voters favor state and local governments providing training and incentives to encourage corner store owners to stock and sell more healthy foods and beverages
· One half (50 percent) of registered voters view access to grocery stores in low to moderate income areas in both urban and rural communities as a serious or somewhat serious problem
· The fact that healthy foods are not affordable was identified as the most significant barrier to improving access to healthy foods in both urban and rural areas
· Lack of nutritional education and poor economic conditions were identified as significant barriers to healthy eating

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities—known as food deserts—often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.

"I was particularly pleased that once those being polled learned more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the support level jumped to 76 percent. This clearly shows North Carolinians are ready for action," said Jacobson.

The American Heart Association is working with the NC Alliance for Health to promote a healthy corner store statewide initiative.

For more information about the poll:

o Poll  Executive Summary

o Poll information packet

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Juddson Rupp

Juddson Rupp, Mid-Atlantic Affiliate

I didn’t remember anything from my week in the hospital, but when a friend brought in a copy of the six o’clock news from October 27, 2000 I quickly realized that either that was a slow news day or that I was one lucky miracle survivor with an important story to share.

"Being at the right place at the right time and near the right equipment may have been a real life saver for a man working out at the YMCA,” the TV anchor began. Her co-anchor added, "Judd Rupp, not your typical heart attack victim - he's in his 30's and was at the gym.  Thanks to some people who knew exactly what to do, he's alive today."

Reporter Steve Litz brought the story to a close saying: "Two important notes to add- It was difficult identifying Judd Rupp as he was not wearing any kind of I.D.  Everything worked in Rupp's favor at the YMCA because so many know CPR there.  Another note, Juddson Rupp is an employee here at WSOC-TV.  We all wish him well in his recovery."

After getting choked up watching news clips like the one above a decade ago, I knew that internally and externally my life had changed.  I could no longer be a just a private citizen.   I had to share my story publicly for several reasons.  I now strongly believe that being and advocate and sharing your story is an important duty as a survivor.

The American Heart Association approached me to ask if they could use my story for the upcoming Heart Ball.  The Marketing Director told me that sharing my story could help save hundreds, if not thousands of lives through the years.  Then the publicity became a 'no-brainer' for me.  Why wouldn't I help save others by informing people to learn CPR or by encouraging them to purchase AED's and stop cardiovascular disease with added research and funding?

After the initial Heart Ball work in 2001, I was asked to be in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that ran on Charlotte TV stations and throughout the Carolinas in a commercial also featuring my wife and two children urging people to 'Learn CPR...it can save lives!'  I became the poster boy for the American Heart Association, as my wife had joked.  She also knew that I was honored to do this and practically anything to help AHA grow its cause...and be the cure.

My volunteer time and work became even more empowering after meeting Betsy Vetter in 2004.  She asked me to join You’re the Cure, and become an advocate for AHA.  My initial role had me traveling to Washington, DC and visiting with Federal Legislators on Capitol Hill.  I am proud to say that I have not missed an AHA Federal Lobby Day since.

Since then I have held multiple roles including communications/media chair for the NC AHA Advocacy Coordinating Committee, a member of the AHA Charlotte Mission Committee, and co-chair of the Smoke-free Mecklenburg Advocacy Committee. I have also been active with Emergency Cardiovascular Care and the Heart Ball, and attended numerous state lobby days at the General Assembly in Raleigh where I share my personal experience with state lawmakers to help them better understand the importance of supporting strong public health policies.

Speaking with countless legislators and their staff to put a face on heart disease, and fight for so many who are not with us anymore is the most empowering reason I do this.  

*On December 14, 2013 Juddson was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Robert Blackburn Award for Advocacy Excellence which honored all of his advocacy work at the American Heart Association.

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Emilie Singh

Emilie Singh, Virginia-District of Columbia

"When Chloe Saved Gracie’s Life"

It was a busy Sunday in 2013 and no one realized my 8 year old daughter Gracie wasn’t feeling well.  She woke up late and asked to take a bath but we told her we wanted to go to Costco first.  We went out to Costco and ran a few other errands.  June in Arizona …it was a hot day. 

When we got home Gracie again asked if she could take a bath. She’s old enough to take baths on her own, and she got it started by herself.  I was upstairs while she was in the tub for a bit, but then went downstairs to change the laundry, and I would occasionally yell “Grace are you ok?” and she would answer “yes”.  My other daughter Chloe (age 11 at the time) was in her room next to the upstairs bathroom watching a show. 

On my way back upstairs with the laundry I again yelled “Grace are you ok?”  But this time she didn’t answer.  I just had a weird feeling, I dropped the laundry, raced into the bathroom and found Gracie blue under the water not breathing.

I started screaming at the top of my lungs “Call 911, call 911!”  As I grabbed Gracie and pulled her out of the tub and put her on the floor, Chloe pushed past me and started performing CPR, pushing on her chest hard with both hands. 

By the time my husband got upstairs with the phone and 911 on the line, Gracie was coughing and spitting up water.  In a few minutes we had her on her bed, covered with a towel and there were 10 firemen and police men in her room.  She was disoriented but thank God she was breathing. 

Gracie lost consciousness so she really doesn’t remember what happened, but she has heard us talk about it.  We just call it “When Chloe Saved Gracie’s Life.”  It seems like the best way to describe the event. 

It turned out that it had been a febrile seizure because, unknown to us, she was already sick and then went into a hot bath. It just made her fever go up higher.  Gracie spent 3 days in the hospital, and Chloe didn’t want to leave her side.  

I can’t even express how grateful I am that Chloe learned CPR in her classroom.  I wish every kid would…you just never know when it could turn them into someone else’s hero.  Chloe was certainly Gracie’s.

See the family retell the gripping story here

 

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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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First MN Legislative Breakfast was a Success!

There are lobby days and events at the Capitol every day, but there has never been a day focused on EMS and Acute Care…until yesterday!! AHA MN partnered with the MN Ambulance Association, the College of Emergency Physicians, the MN Resuscitation Consortium, the MN Trauma System and the MN Office of Rural Health to hold an event that focused on emergency medicine in rural MN and highlighted the developing MN Stroke System of Care. AHA has 3 bills this session that focus on Acute/Emergency Care and EMS:

  • HF513/SF495 Stroke Protocols for EMS
  • HF818/SF790 Funding for the MN Stroke System of Care
  • HF188/SF307 Pre Hospital Data Collection & Reporting

After the morning event, our 57 Volunteers headed to the Capitol and State Office to meet with their legislator! Volunteers had many more contacts with staff and left personal notes where their legislators weren't available. Our one sheet and ambulance filled with lifesaver mints were dropped off at all 201 legislators.

Check out the great media coverage the event received!

Thank you to all of our great volunteers who attended and partners who helped make this Legislative Breakfast a great success!

 

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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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