Author Archive

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 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.

Malone Adivsory Board Reaps the Fruits of its Labor

Posted on: May 27th, 2017 by Glenn

The grants will bring to life some of the conceptual designs of the Malone Complete Streets Plan

The Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board deserves a big round of applause!  Earlier this month it was announced that Franklin County was awarded two grants worth $1.35 million.  Franklin County submitted the grant while the application was written by members of the Malone Complete Streets Advisory Board.  The grant will fund two pedestrian projects in Malone.  The larger grant for $1,071,200 will be used to construct sidewalks and pedestrian crossings on Route 11.  The existing sidewalk will be extended to Walmart. The smaller grant for $280,800 will go toward constructing a sidewalk on State Street.  That sidewalk will complete the walking route to Franklin Academy and the Rec Park.


Wayne Miller and Boyce Sherwin were the main authors while the other members of the Advisory Board provided assistance with defining the project and editing the application.  The Malone Complete Streets Board is an all-volunteer board whose members have been working for over seven years to improve the streets of Malone by making them safer and more inviting for walking and bicycling.  The Malone Complete Streets initiative began with a group of concerned citizens who attended a training in 2010.  The training introduced Complete Streets and focused on how to make Main Street more pedestrian-friendly.  After the training, a group of volunteers formed the Malone Complete Streets Partnership, which eventually evolved into the Complete Streets Advisory Board.  This group assessed the streets of Malone and with the assistance of the North Country Healthy Heart Network created the Malone Complete Streets Plan, which outlines a number of projects for improving bike and pedestrian facilities around key community destinations such as schools, business districts and recreation areas.  Installing a sidewalk on State Street is one of three priority projects identified in the plan.

One of the strengths of the Franklin County application is that the projects in Malone are identified in official plans adopted by the Town and Village and there is a Complete Streets Policy to support implementation of the plan.  This success story highlights the importance of having good plans that identify needs in the community.  This is also an amazing example of what a group of well-informed, dedicated volunteers can accomplish in a small town.  Margaret Mead says it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

NYS Department of Transportation awarded the grants to Franklin County through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The money for TAP is passed down from the federal government for the purpose of supporting bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Brushton Moira Hosts Staff Wellness Day

Posted on: May 27th, 2017 by Glenn

So often when trying to create a healthy environment in schools the focus is on promoting student health and wellness.  However, it’s also important to look for ways to support administrators, teachers and staff members.  This past March, Brushton Moira CSD did just that.

The district held a half-day staff development session and provided an afternoon of healthy living workshops and physical activities led by community members and fellow staff members. Individual sessions included yoga, Zumba, discussions about healthy eating strategies and meal planning, information about diabetes, mindfulness practice, a volleyball game and drum circles to give the attendees a variety of options to care for their bodies and minds. A group luncheon, featuring a large pot-luck salad bar, allowed staff a chance to take a break from the busy scheduled lineup and reconnect with each other. The Heart Network supported planning for the event: reaching out to session facilitators, providing technical assistance to identify best practices, and assisting with written invites.

The district wellness committee, responsible for planning the event, wanted their colleagues to know that they are valued as educators AND individuals and to provide them with useful tools to support healthful living. In an anonymous survey conducted afterwards, 95% of the staff rated the day very good or excellent. One staff member commented, “I really enjoyed the day. I think it was a great way to do something fun with our co-workers. I think it lifted morale and was very practical.” When asked about their favorite part of the day another staff member said “Lots of favorite things! I liked having choices for activities, plus the leniency to design our own day if that is what we wanted to do. It was great to be able to see and interact with people we don’t often get to be with. Pot luck lunches are the best days.”

The Heart Network hopes this is just the jumping off point for what will continue to be a positive relationship between students, teachers and wellness.

New Workplace Wellness Committee

Posted on: May 8th, 2017 by Glenn

Franklin County Legislators attend first Franklin County Wellness Committee Meeting

Franklin County, as an employer, has formed a wellness committee.  As part of the Fit Pix Worksite Project, facilitated by North Country Healthy Heart Network with funding from NYSDOH, county department champions came together to discuss ideas and concerns related to healthy lifestyles at work.  The outcome of the meeting was an unanimous vote to form an employee wellness committee.

Per the wellness committee’s by-laws, the committee will encourage collaboration and enthusiasm among employees; reshape the agency’s culture to promote healthy living and a positive work environment; and provide resources and support for all employees to make lifestyle behavior changes.  In addition, the employee wellness committee is charged with overseeing implementation of the county’s healthy meeting and healthy vending resolutions: resolutions passed last year to increase visibility and accessibility to healthier foods and beverages in the workplace.

This Committee is comprised of Franklin County employees from various departments and is currently chaired by Taylor Cassavaw.  Other officers include Kaitlin Sexton as co-chair, Melissa Dame as Secretary, and Kristye Fountain as Treasurer.  Their first official meeting as a committee was supported and attended by County Legislators and the County Manager (see picture).  At the meeting, they enthusiastically discussed their first project – a Community Wellness Day to be held at the Malone Recreation Park late this summer.