Author Archive

Two More School Districts Achieve USDA Compliance

Posted on: August 7th, 2017 by Glenn

The Northern Franklin County school districts of Salmon River and Malone have been added to the list of those with compliant local wellness policies. Looking ahead, implementation of each of the new components of these policies will take place over the upcoming academic year.

Last summer brought about the announcement of the United States Department of Agriculture final rules for wellness policies. Schools all over the country found themselves scrambling to meet the June 30, 2017 deadline for compliance. Luckily, through the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities partnership, North Country Healthy Heart Network …

The Heart Network spearheaded the project by recruiting champions, providing recommendations for policy improvement and suggesting current best practices. Additionally, the Heart Network gathered input from school community members about wellness climate and drafted policy revisions. Administrators and Board members in all of the districts expressed their appreciation for the Heart Network’s assistance: assistance offered at a time when increased demands are continuing to be placed on schools.

 

Adirondack Health and North Country Healthy Heart Network Announce Tobacco Treatment Partnership

Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by Glenn

Healthcare leaders and providers know: There’s nothing healthy about tobacco addiction

Tobacco Treatment partners from left to right: Sylvia Getman, President and CEO, Adirondack Health; Dr. Darci Beiras, Interim Chief Medical Officer, Adirondack Health; Ann Morgan, Executive Director, North Country Healthy Heart Network; Linda Savarie, Adirondack Health Decker Community Learning Center; Dana Kellerman, VP Support Services & Chief Human Resources Officer, Adirondack Health

SARANAC LAKE, NY, August 4, 2017 — Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in New York state. A new partnership between the North Country Healthy Heart Network and Adirondack Health looks to change that.

An outgrowth of the Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free NY initiative, the partnership ensures that at every visit, providers will offer patients help to quit tobacco addiction. Studies show that by providing counseling and medication to tobacco-using patients, health outcomes improve and healthcare expenses are reduced. In fact, patients who work with their healthcare provider to quit using tobacco are two to three times more likely to succeed.

“Tobacco addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease,” said Sylvia Getman, President and CEO, Adirondack Health. “Patients value the advice and direction their providers give them, so including a discussion and screening for tobacco use at each visit could be just the impetus they need.”

Health systems across New York state are pursuing the Triple Aim of improving population health, enhancing the quality of patient care, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare. According to the NYS Department of Health, tobacco use kills more than 28,000 New Yorkers every year, and afflicts more than 500,000 New Yorkers with serious diseases directly attributable to tobacco use. Treating tobacco dependence with evidence-based practice can have a positive impact on other chronic conditions as well, including diabetes, hypertension and COPD.

“Integration of tobacco dependence treatment makes fiscal sense for individual health systems like Adirondack Health and for the state of New York,” said Ann Morgan, North Country Healthy Heart Network’s Executive Director. “And, it improves patient satisfaction, since 70 percent of smokers want to quit.”

Tobacco-related illness costs the state more than $10.4 billion in medical expenses annually, including $3.3 billion in Medicaid costs. Tobacco use treatment is a low-cost intervention aligned with the shift to value-based care, and can cut costs borne by counties.

Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free New York is a network of professionals who provide resources to help health facilities and behavior health organizations across the state deliver more consistent, effective, evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment to patients and clients.

To learn more about tobacco treatment at Adirondack Health, call Linda Savarie in Adirondack Health’s Decker Community Learning Center at 518-897-2274.

North Country Healthy Heart Network subcontracts with Glens Falls Hospital to implement the NYS Department of Health’s Health Systems for Tobacco Free NY grant in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties. Founded in 2000, the Heart Network’s mission is to design, develop and implement strategies to decrease the incidence of cardiac disease, stroke, and related chronic disease in Northern New York State. All activities are aimed at reducing tobacco use and increasing physical activity and nutrition – the top 3 preventable causes of chronic disease that often disproportionately impact people living in rural communities.To learn more about the North Country Healthy Heart Network, visit www.heartnetwork.org.

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Related Links:
Adirondack Health www.adirondackhealth.org
North Country Healthy Heart Network www.heartnetwork.org
Health Systems for a Tobacco-Free NY www.hstnymed.org
1 minute video: About Health Systems For Tobacco-Free 
NY for Medical Organizations https://youtu.be/8GoNk91AFO4

Malone Complete Streets Board Wins Healthy Place Maker Award

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by Glenn

Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board Chair, Boyce Sherwin (center), accepts North Country Healthy Heart Network’s Healthy Place Maker Award. Also pictured (l-r) are Ann Morgan (Heart Network Executive Director), Jamie Konkoski (Heart Network Program Manager), Susan Patterson (Heart Network Board Chair), and Katie Strack (incoming Heart Network Board Member and Franklin County Public Health Director).

The North Country Healthy Heart Network has selected the Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board to receive the new Healthy Place Maker Award. The Heart Network award is presented to an individual or organization that has taken substantial action to institutionalize a health promoting resource or practice and demonstrated commitment and ability to develop and grow independent of Heart Network technical support. Heart Network Board Chair Sue Patterson presented the award, which included a plaque and cash prize, at the July meeting of the Complete Streets Board.

“The Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board is a shining example of what the Heart Network aims to do; it builds foundations for healthy communities, and in this case – the Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board is the foundation from which many new health promoting opportunities now emerge,” said Patterson.

At the presentation, Jamie Konkoski, Heart Network Program Manager, shared a brief history of the group’s development.
The complete streets project in Malone began in 2010 when interested citizens attended a training hosted by the Heart Network and Franklin County Public Health Department. From that training a group calling themselves the Malone Complete Streets Partnership formed with the goal of creating a plan to make Malone streets more walkable. Heart Network staff trained these volunteers to assess existing conditions for walking and then used the information gathered to help draft a Malone Complete Streets Plan.

The plan outlined a variety of projects and programs that would make Malone streets more pedestrian friendly. The Partnership presented the plan to the Village and Town of Malone and in 2014 it was adopted. The group was officially established as the Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board and charged with overseeing implementation of the plan.

Heart Network staff continued working closely with the Advisory Board helping to build the expertise and financial capacity needed to implement the plan. Using the Complete Streets Plan, Heart Network staff were able to secure a number of small and large grants to support their infrastructure projects. The Heart Network also continued providing members of the Advisory Board with Complete Streets training and education opportunities.

Over the years, the need for Heart Network assistance decreased as members of the Advisory Board became their own local experts on making Malone more walkable. They have hosted educational forums, worked with developers to make sure sidewalks are included in new commercial construction projects, and encouraged more walking and biking through the Explore Malone Walk/Bike Challenge. The groups’ crowning achievement was the recent award of a $1.35 million grant for construction of sidewalks. Members of the Complete Streets Advisory Board, without any assistance from the Heart Network, wrote the grant application.

Konkoski explained that “the Advisory Board’s pursuit and receipt of these new grants, without any technical support from the Heart Network, are evidence that this group has truly achieved sustainability. We couldn’t be more proud to recognize their accomplishments by making them the first recipient of a Heart Network Healthy Place Maker Award.”

Making Our Case for Cessation – New Video Speaks to Health Care Leaders

Posted on: July 9th, 2017 by Glenn

Our Health Systems for Tobacco Free New York (HSTFNY) program is always seeking new ways to engage and recruit leaders of medical and behavioral health systems across the North Country. We need them to know that our free services will help them improve evidence-based tobacco interventions. A unique digital mailer was developed and sent by NY Department of Health – Tobacco Control Program (TCP) to leaders of target health systems across the state; delivering this message directly into the hands of their CEOs. When opened, the unique digital card automatically plays a strategically crafted one minute video. The video message speaks to these leaders’ point of view, prompting them to contact HSTFNY to access our services.

And it works! We brought along a digital card to a June meeting with Elizabethtown Community Hospital’s CEO John Remillard and CNO Julie Tromblee. We were joined by our ATFC partner and had about 15 minutes to make the case for signing onto HSTFNY; showing the brief videos on the spot saved considerable time. We are proud to report that we will begin working with ECH in July. Because we engaged the highest levels of administration, we have considerable buy-in for the initiative.

Click HERE to see the one minute video.

Another Successful SR2S Month and New Funding Announcement

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by Glenn

The month of May marked the fourth year of Safe Routes to School (SR2S) education and encouragement events in Franklin County.  This year, Davis, St. Joseph’s, and Flanders Elementary Schools in Malone as well as Petrova Elementary in Saranac Lake participated in a month-long Walk and Bike to School Challenge. Students who participated were entered in raffles for prizes such as bike lights, water bottles and bike bells to aid their commute to school. Petrova hosted a weekly walking school bus every Wednesday in May that departed from the center of downtown and made its way up LaPan Highway to the school. Despite the absence of two grade levels at the school, the school saw 30-40 participants in the event each week. St. Joseph’s also led a school-wide walk on a sunny Friday morning with SRTS mascot Walker the SR2S Chicken.

The Heart Network has been a member of a multi-organization partnership that has coordinated and supported these events with funding from a SRTS grant awarded to Franklin County.  While that grant has expired, we are pleased to announce that the Heart Network has a new grant that will allow us to continue to support SRTS education and encouragement initiatives in Franklin County schools.  The Charles R. Wood Foundation has awarded funding for bike helmets, education materials and props that will be used for demonstrations and bike safety practice.  Education efforts will target students in third and fourth grades.  Our goal is to provide students with the information and resources to be able to bike safely and independently.  We will continue to work with local partners to offer bike rodeos, walk and bike to school encouragement campaigns, and education programs at both summer youth programs and at schools during Walk and Bike to School Month in May.

The mission of the Charles R. Wood Foundation is to provide assistance to not-for-profit organizations with an emphasis on programs for children, healthcare and the arts.  The Heart Network is grateful for their support and excited to continue to build a Safe Routes to School movement in the North Country.

Apple Corps Alive and Well!

Posted on: June 7th, 2017 by Glenn

Former Heart Network Executive Director Margot Gold (left) checks on her apple tree.

The two apple trees planted in honor Margot Gold’s retirement from North Country Healthy Heart Network last spring survived their first winter and continue to be well cared for by Saranac Lake Common Ground Gardens (SLCGG).  At a Spring Work Party on May 20th, Common Ground Gardens Coordinator Andrea Audi (pictured here in white) planted chive and borage seeds at the base of both trees, explaining that they are healthy, complimentary companions for apple trees.  The trees were then surrounded by fencing to protect them from neighborhood deer.

While at the Heart Network, Margot (center picture – left) hoped to one day launch a project she called Apple Corps.  Her vision was to have organizations around the region agree to plant and care for apple trees – the fruits of which would then be shared with residents having limited access to fresh produce. Thanks to the Heart Network’s Board of Directors and the SLCGG, Margot’s dream is coming alive.  Perhaps next year … apples!

Tri-Lakes Diabetes Prevention Efforts Celebrating Success

Posted on: June 5th, 2017 by Glenn

Standing (L-R): Linda and Gary Ceisner, Andrea Goff (MFT Lifestyle Coach), Barbara Tebo, Kelly Metzgar. Seated (L-R): Sarah Doyle (Adirondack Health) and Lindsay Speicher (Excellus BlueCross BlueShield)

The Heart Networks newest Diabetes prevention program, Moving Forward Together, works!

Moving Forward Together to Prevent Diabetes in Franklin County (MFT) is a program developed by North Country Healthy Heart Network with funding from With funding from Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield to encourage and support health provider efforts to identify and address pre-diabetes.

The Heart Network partnered with Adirondack Health to plan the program, and in January 2016 Adirondack Health providers began referring patients with pre-diabetes to the Moving Forward Together (MFT) lifestyle coach. Since that time, more than 125 Tri-Lakes residents have participated in the program – and the majority are making great progress toward reducing their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

More than 65 percent of people completing the program have lost weight and/or reversed their pre-diabetes diagnosis.  “This is a very exciting finding,” says Lindsay Speicher, Community and Regional Affairs Manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.  Excellus BCBS awarded a grant to North Country Healthy Heart Network to help start the program almost two years ago.

Several program participants recently met with Ms. Speicher to share their experiences and thank Excellus BlueCross BlueShield for helping to make the program possible. “When my doctor told me I had prediabetes and offered a referral [to the MFT coach], I didn’t think it would help,” explained Barbara Tebo of Tupper Lake.  “I went anyway, and [the coach] helped me to make small changes that, over time, are making a big difference.  I’ve now lost more than 80 pounds and recently started running again. For the first time, I’m feeling like I can really do this.”

Gary and Linda Ceisner of Saranac Lake were referred to the program more recently.  “I was referred first,” said Gary.  “Then my wife found out that she also has pre-diabetes, so we’re doing it together.”  “We’ve always been pretty good about what we eat, but were just eating too much,” added Linda.  The coach helped us understand how to read food labels and plan for healthier snacks.  We’re so thankful for the support.”

Providers are also pleased with the program.   Dona Kilgore, a physician assistant at Tupper Lake Health Center, said “this program is a great opportunity to identify and teach patients about life changes that they can make to prevent diabetes  … I think this program is excellent, and I thank Excellus BCBS for making this possible.”

In addition to Moving Forward Together, the Heart Network and Adirondack Health have partnered with Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network and the Infant Jesus of Prague Foundation to offer the National Diabetes Prevention Program (now called Prevent T2) in Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

Prevent T2 is a yearlong, evidence-based group program that supports individuals wanting to make and maintain lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes.  The Prevent T2 groups are comprised of MFT participants, without whom the program would not be possible. “We’ve tried to offer Prevent T2 before,” explained Sarah Doyle, Care Coordinator at Adirondack Health. “But people weren’t signing up.  Moving Forward Together helps get people motivated and interested in joining.  It’s a great feeder program!”

Kelly Metzgar of Saranac Lake attends the Lake Placid Prevent T2 group.  She was referred by the MFT coach and says it helps her to be more accountable.  “It’s really a great compliment to the work I do [with the MFT coach],” said Metzgar.  “It’s good to have other people to talk to about what’s working for them, and it keeps me focused on doing what I need to do to keep myself healthy.”

To find out if you or someone you love is at risk for pre-diabetes, visit https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/prediabetestest.pdf to take a pre-diabetes risk test, and then talk to your doctor about the results.  They may suggest a blood test to find out if you have prediabetes.  If you do, ask for a referral to Moving Forward Together, or contact the Heart Network at (518) 891-5855 for more information.

 

Network of Cessation Support Grows

Posted on: May 29th, 2017 by Glenn

Representatives from Clinton County Mental Health & Addiction Services, Citizen Advocates and Plattsburgh Housing Authority joined the Heart Network’s Stefanie Miller (right) for a picture at the Butt Stops Here training.

The Heart Network continues working to expand the North Country’s network of support for tobacco cessation.  Nine people from five North Country organizations were trained in May to provide tobacco cessation education in their settings.  These newly trained individuals will be invited to join an existing network of Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists (health professionals trained to provide intensive one-on-one counseling to individuals actively attempting to quit), and will add a new layer of support for tobacco cessation in the community by helping to facilitate activities designed to motivate tobacco users to think more often about quitting.

Two people being trained (Tammy Langley and Julie Walters) work at the Plattsburgh Housing Authority (PHA).  Elise Rock, a registered nurse and Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist (CTTS) with the CVPH Medical Home Care Management Team, is part of the team already working with PHA to support development of their program.  “I think this is going to be great,” Rock said.  “Hopefully their program will get residents thinking more about quitting.  When a resident decides they are ready to give it a try, I will be there to help coordinate with their provider to get needed medication and offer my one-on-one counseling support.”

Ann Morgan, the Heart Network’s Executive Director, added “the beautiful thing here is that  residents trying to quit will not only have improved access to CTTS support.  They’ll also have the support of Tammy, Julie and other residents at PHA who are actively working toward living tobacco-free.  Having access to that network of social and environmental support makes it more likely they will quit for good.”

Tammy, Julie and others pictured here attended the Butt Stops Here training (hosted by Glens Falls Hospital) in Queensbury on May 12th.  The Mental Health Association of Essex County and Community Connections in Malone are also having individuals trained to facilitate cessation education groups in their settings.  Just like PHA, their organizations will be offered CTTS and Heart Network support as they develop their programs.   The Heart Network’s support of this work is made possible with funds from Adirondack Health Institute.