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Grand Itasca Joins 13 Other Communities in Wellness Promotion Partnership

9/7/2012

Grand Rapids MN – Allina Health and George Family Foundation have announced a regional health improvement partnership with 13 health care organizations in communities across Greater Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. The named organizations, including Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital, are:  First Light Health System, Mora, MN; Hutchinson Area Health Care, Hutchinson, MN; Ridgeview Medical Center, Waconia, MN; Baldwin Area Medical Center, Baldwin, WI; District One Hospital, Faribault, MN; Buffalo Hospital, Buffalo MN; Cambridge Medical Center, Cambridge, MN; River Falls Area Hospital, River Falls, WI; Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby, MN; Regina Medical Center, Hastings, MN; Rice Memorial Hospital, Willmar, MN; and Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin, MN.

 

 

Grand Rapids MN – Allina Health and George Family Foundation have announced a regional health improvement partnership with 13 health care organizations in communities across Greater Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. The named organizations, including Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital, are:  First Light Health System, Mora, MN; Hutchinson Area Health Care, Hutchinson, MN; Ridgeview Medical Center, Waconia, MN; Baldwin Area Medical Center, Baldwin, WI; District One Hospital, Faribault, MN; Buffalo Hospital, Buffalo MN; Cambridge Medical Center, Cambridge, MN; River Falls Area Hospital, River Falls, WI; Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby, MN; Regina Medical Center, Hastings, MN; Rice Memorial Hospital, Willmar, MN; and Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin, MN.

“This program, titled “Healthy Communities Partnership,” recognizes that at least 40 percent of the deaths in the U.S. are attributed to four behaviors: unhealthy eating, inadequate exercise, smoking and hazardous drinking, and about 95 percent of the population lives with an identifiable risk factor,” said Courtney Baechler, MD, Vice President of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, the part of Allina Health that is responsible for health promotion and wellness.

In all, Allina Health and the George Family Foundation are allocating approximately $6.4 million to a three-year program that will screen, assess and improve the health of residents in these 13 communities. “This is serious money devoted to a serious goal: keeping people as healthy as possible for as long as they can,” says Mike Youso, CEO at Grand Itasca.

Three institutions have already begun community health screenings, the first step of the health improvement process:  Hutchinson Area Health Center, First Light Health System and Ridgeview Medical Center.  Grand Itasca is part of the second group of partners selected and has already begun discussions about ways to improve health and wellness activities in Grand Rapids and area communities with Allina Health, the George Foundation, and other communities in the Healthy Communities Partnership.

Each community will customize their program to fit their community’s specific needs and resources, but some components are consistent, including: 

  • Each community will hold baseline screenings that will allow each participant and community to know their “health score.”
  • Participants in the program will use an online tool called “Family Health Manager” that will allow researchers access to anonymous data.
  • An inventory of local resources will identify and fill gaps in local wellness programming, such as smoking cessation classes.
  • A wellness care guide will work with each participant on a health improvement plan combining medical and non-medical approaches.
  • Participants will be re-screened each year. 

 

Grand Itasca will first pilot this program with its own employees beginning in 2012.  Following the initial pilot at Grand Itasca, the wellness program tagged “Lead by Example,” will be offered to other community groups and individuals interested in improving their own health and the health of area communities. Successful key elements, for engaging groups and individuals in health improvement efforts that were identified as part of the Grand Itasca pilot, will be shared with interested community “Wellness Partners.”  These key elements will provide area community “Wellness Partners” tested guidelines and checkpoints to use in their own wellness efforts.  

Getting people to take more responsibility for their health is more important as our nation’s population ages, and the consequences of obesity, smoking and lack of exercise take hold. With health care costs consuming such a large share of government budgets and personal income, doing nothing to change our unhealthy ways just doesn’t seem right.

“We need to move away from the ‘find it, fix it, and forget it’ model currently in wide use in the medical community.  These partnerships are a step toward making integrative health care more mainstream, and we believe that is central to empowering individuals to take more responsibility for their own health,” said Penny George, co-founder of the George Family Foundation.

The residents in Itasca County communities can feel honored that their area was selected for the program. Allina and the George Family Foundation have recognized that the communities in this area are already very active and motivated about health and wellness. Grand Itasca had provided a Community Inventory of Health and Wellness resources in Itasca County as part of their grant application.  This inventory is now the suggested model for other participants in this grant program. 

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.  The George Family Foundation is a private grant-making organization with an emphasis on leveraged, strategic funding. The Foundation funds innovative ideas in integrative health, education, leadership development, social justice and spirituality in everyday life.

Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital is a non-profit, integrated delivery system that employs over 600 people. The integrated clinic and hospital, described as a “modern expression of hospitality and healing” is home to over 60 physicians and other care providers including specialists in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Oncology, ENT, Urology, General and Reconstructive Surgery and Podiatry. 

 

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