NEW ULM - The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) has been awarded a federal grant of $204,275 for a new Heart of Brown County project.
The grant is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Community Transformation Grants (CTG) to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care spending in small communities. The funds are designed to support areas with fewer than 500,000 people.
Karen Moritz, Public Health director for Brown County, said, "Brown County Public Health is very excited about the opportunities this grant will provide to improve the health and well-being of the residents in our community. We look forward to working with Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) to create policies, systems and an environment that promotes healthy lifestyles that will lead to the prevention of chronic disease and make our community an even better place to live, work, and play."
MHIF and Brown County Public Health will use the funding over a two-year period to expand several elements of HONU countywide. Specifically, the Heart of Brown County will 1) promote increasing physical activity levels of county residents by advocating for both the New Ulm City Council and the Brown County Commission to adopt a Complete Streets resolution, 2) expand HONU s SWAP IT to DROP IT campaign, and 3) expand the American Lung Association s Freedom from Smoking program in the county.
Analysis of data presented in March 2011 indicated a 24 percent drop in heart attacks in New Ulm over a 15-month period. Electronic Health Record data trends from 2008 to 2011 show New Ulm adults aged 40-79 have, on average, reduced their blood pressure by nearly three points, and their LDL cholesterol level by more than two points.
As a testament to the success of the Heart of New Ulm Project, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin recently visited New Ulm for the New Ulm Area Day of Play event on Sept. 29 hosted by Martin Luther College in cooperation with HONU and New Ulm Medical Center.
Streets are planned to be safe and accessible for pedestrians, transit riders, bicyclists and drivers all users, regardless of age or ability. The Minnesota Legislature passed a Complete Streets law in 2010, which directs a supportive Minnesota Department of Transportation to transition to Complete Streets.
SWAP IT to DROP IT Campaign
Plans are to expand HONU's SWAP IT to DROP IT marketing campaign, which highlights making healthier food and beverage choices. The campaign currently partners with five convenience stores, two grocery stores and 13 restaurants in New Ulm and will be expanded to additional stores and restaurants throughout Brown County.
Freedom from Smoking
Through the New Ulm Schools Community Education program and also local worksites, HONU has for several years offered the American Lung Association s Freedom from Smoking course to help participants quit smoking. With the help of the grant, the Heart of Brown County will train more individuals to teach the Freedom from Smoking program across Brown County.
The Community Transformation Grants are one piece of a broader effort by the President Barack Obama's administration to address the health and well-being of U.S. communities through initiatives such as the President s Childhood Obesity Task Force, the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign, the National Prevention Strategy, the National Quality Strategy, and HHS Million Hearts initiative. The Prevention and Public Health Fund, as part of the Affordable Care Act, is supporting the CTG program and other initiatives designed to expand and sustain the necessary capacity to prevent chronic diseases, detect them early, manage conditions before they become severe, and provide states and communities the resources they need to promote healthy living.