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New program focuses on Hastings' health

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News Hastings,Minnesota 55033 http://www.hastingsstargazette.com/sites/all/themes/hastingsstargazette_theme/images/social_default_image.png
Hastings Star Gazette
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New program focuses on Hastings' health
Hastings Minnesota 745 Spiral Boulevard 55033

A new program at Regina Medical Center is working to help improve Hastings residents' general health. A Healthier Hastings 4 All (AH-HA) will offer health assessments, screenings and follow-ups; community health challenges, activities and events; promotion and support of community health efforts; and a community health needs assessment.

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AH-HA is part of a larger health initiative spread across Minnesota and western Wisconsin that launched last year. The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing initiated the effort and got funding form the George Family Foundation to create health partnerships in 13 communities, including Hastings. Partnerships would focus on preventing deaths and chronic illness related to poor nutrition, inadequate exercise, smoking and hazardous drinking. Studies show 40 percent of deaths in the U.S. are attributed to these behaviors, said Lisa Damon, AH-HA program ambassador. Research also indicates that 95 percent of the population lives with an identifiable health risk factor.

Each community was given $500,000 over three years to get the program going. Hastings began its efforts last summer. The focus locally is on physical activity and nutrition - two things that everyone can work on, said Michelle Johnson, AH-HA wellness care guide.

How it works

AH-HA starts off by determining an individual adult's general health by conducting a baseline screening. After reviewing the results with the individual, a wellness care guide will provide follow-up, resources and health coaching. Annual re-screenings will help assess progress.

The idea, Johnson said, is to not only get people more aware of their health risks, but to also help motivate them to make a change and maintain healthy lifestyles.

A family health manger, an online assessment tool that also provides resources specific to an individual's particular needs, is going live March 15. Community members will upload activities going on in Hastings to the database, providing current and relative activities for people using the family health manager. For example, Damon said, someone with diabetes could use the online resource to find local events and programs designed to help those with diabetes.

AH-HA is starting small for the first year. Screenings will be done on Hastings health care providers and hospital employees first. The goal is to screen 200 health care providers and school district employees in the first year. In the second year, screenings would roll out to 300 city leaders and the business and faith communities. The third year will target seniors and the general community.

Although each year has a targeted audience, AH-HA will identify others along the way, Damon said. For the first three years, screenings will be complimentary, as the program funding is expected to pay for them.

Participants in AH-HA don't necessarily have to have a special screening to take advantage of its resources. Participants can also have their results forwarded from their regular physician.

Goals

The ultimate goal of AH-HA, Damon said, is to motivate the community to be healthy. It also aims to provide resources and support for integrating health care into prevention, create a culture of wellness in Hastings, identify health care gaps in the community and develop programs to meet needs.

To help raise awareness of the program and get people involved, AH-HA is hosting a community-wide kick-off at 11 a.m. Monday, April 1, at the Regina Medical Center patio pavilion and chapel lobby. After a short ceremony, participants will take a 15-minute walk around campus. Refreshments and prizes will be available. Chef Marshall, who recently appeared at Hastings schools to promote healthy eating, will also be in attendance.

Also as part of the kick-off, AH-HA is asking the community to answer a one-question online survey. The question is: What could the Hastings Community do to help you improve your health?

To answer the question, go to www.surveymonkey.com /s/82LV3DC.

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Katrina Styx
Katrina Styx has been a reporter for the Hastings Star Gazette since 2010. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls. Prior to coming to Hastings, Katrina reported for weekly newspapers in Jordan, Minn., and River Falls, Wis.
(651) 319-4501
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