Creating a Healthier Adirondack Region Together
Strengthening communities, empowering individuals, transforming health care.
Adirondack Health Institute is an independent, non-profit organization supporting hospitals, physician practices, behavioral health providers, community-based organizations, patients and others in our region to transform health care and improve population health.
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What is Happening at Adirondack Health Institute
In recognition of National Rural Health Day, November 21, Adirondack Health Institute is pleased to announce seven individuals have been recognized as 2019 Rural Health Champions. The annual recognition is a collaborative effort of four of the North Country’s Rural Health Networks, including the Adirondack Rural Health Network (ARHN), a program of AHI supported with funds from the NYS Department of Health Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health. Each year since 2015, the Rural Health Networks in Northern New York ask their network partners to nominate individuals who exemplify the selfless, community-minded, can-do spirit that prevails in rural America.
2019 Rural Health Champions:
Valerie Ainsworth, Executive Director, Mental Health Association of Essex County, 2019 Rural Health Community Empowerment Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Valerie Ainsworth not only runs the Mental Health Association in Essex County, which has been recognized for excellence by the Office of Mental Health but is a passionate advocate for veterans through Homeward Bound. She is a tireless worker for residents of Essex, Franklin, and Clinton county.”
Susan Allott, Assistant Director of Public Health, Essex County Health Department, 2019 Rural Public Health Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Susan is dedicated and compassionate to her staff, but first and foremost an advocate for those in our community who are under-served. Sue holds a Master of Science degree in Nursing and a Certificate in Public Health, giving her a unique perspective into health care. It is through that lens that she guides us to deliver compassionate, culturally-competent, trauma-informed, evidence-based public health initiatives.”
Leah Breeyear, Regional Education and Outreach Coordinator, Planned Parenthood Mohawk Hudson, 2019 Rural Health Education and Outreach Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Being an Education and Outreach Specialist is not just a job for Leah. She understands and wears with pride the fact that she is the face of the organization in our local community. Leah never stops educating, whether it is before or after events or even in her day-to-day in the community, she provides informative and accessible information to everyone who needs it.”
Jennifer Neifeld, Chief Operating Officer, 820 River St, Baywood Center, 2019 Rural Health Community Collaboration Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Jennifer has been a visionary with several projects, willing to take the lead in the community to tackle critical issues standing in the way of improved health and wellness. She has a can-do attitude and takes on whatever is needed to make these critical programs come to fruition. We are grateful for her energy and commitment to the communities in Warren and Washington counties.”
Lee Rivers, Executive Director, Community Connections of Franklin County, 2019 Rural Health Community Impact Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from his nomination reads: “Lee Rivers is one of the most collaborative leaders in the field of behavioral health in the North Country! He is an out-of-the-box thinker who looks for solutions that support community members across the North Country region, and not just in his backyard. He works tirelessly to find funding, obtain resources and bring together partners to help improve the health care of the residents in our area.”
Maggie Rowley, Manager of Care Coordination, Nathan Littauer Hospital, 2019 Rural Health Care Coordination Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from her nomination reads: “Maggie’s vision, leadership and personal engagement with patients and families have been extraordinary! She is a superstar! By instinct and experience, Maggie is acutely aware of the non-clinical drivers that prevent patients from seeking appropriate care environments, follow care plans, or understand how to manage their health. Maggie has played a crucial role in the integration of hospital and community-based care navigation, development of warm hand-offs to community-based organization representatives, data tracking, and direct patient intervention.”
Edward “Trip” Shannon, Chief Development Officer, Hudson Headwaters Health Network, 2019 Rural Health Advocacy Champion of the Year.
An excerpt from his nomination reads: “Trip Shannon has made a lasting contribution to the health care of the entire region through his work at Hudson Headwaters. His role as chief development officer means that he is at the forefront of new projects, enhanced services, relationship-building with elected officials and creating relationships among health-oriented organizations throughout the region. Trip’s daily motivation stems from his passion to identify and address needs in communities throughout Warren, Essex, Clinton, Washington, Hamilton, and Saratoga counties.”
“Rural regions have distinctive health care needs that require those who provide care and community support services to possess unique abilities, drive, and dedication,” said Eric Burton, CEO, Adirondack Health Institute. “Each of our honorees shares the common attribute of being recognized leaders in the facilitation of exceptional health care services in their respective communities and all seven are highly-deserving of this accolade.”
Created by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH), National Rural Health Day showcases the work being done to address the unique health care needs of rural communities. For more information, please visit www.nosorh.org/nrhd.
Adirondack Health has long sought to curtail the incidence of chronic disease in its community. When DSRIP funding became available from the AHI Performing Provider System to support innovative health care projects, the health system applied for and was awarded funding to support the hiring of chronic disease wellness coaches. Since October 2018, coaches have been working in the hospital’s health centers, providing one-on-one patient consultations for diabetes, hypertension, elevated lipids, obesity, tobacco use, and stress.
According to Sylvia Getman, Adirondack Health’s President & CEO, patients have made significant progress with the help of the coaches. “Adirondack Health would have not been able to undertake this population health initiative without DSRIP funding. We hope to continue to offer these services to our community members and encourage healthy lifestyles which lead to better health outcomes.”
“The wellness coaches assess, assist, and monitor patients in making lifestyle changes to further reduce and reverse the risk of developing chronic disease,” explained Heidi Bailey, the organization’s Population Health Manager. “The coaches have helped individuals in so many ways. They’ve used motivational interviewing techniques to promote effective behavioral change, worked toward certification as tobacco treatment specialists, and helped guide people through the process of completing advanced directives and health care proxy forms.”
Since the program’s inception, the health centers have had 312 encounters with qualifying patients looking to lose weight, quit smoking, receive nutritional counseling, and more. Of that group, 30 percent had type 2 diabetes, 38 percent were overweight, 38 percent had pre-diabetes, 20 percent were smokers, and six percent had stress management issues.
Bailey shared some impressive statistics illustrating the success of the initiative:
- Of 86 participants with pre-post weight recordings, 66 (76 percent) have recorded weight loss.
- Of the 86 participants, 16 (19 percent) have lost more than five percent of their initial body weight.
- Of 80 individuals with pre-post activity frequency measures, 32 (40 percent) increased from their baseline activity frequency and 47 (58 percent) maintained their activity frequency.
- Only one out of the 80 individuals decreased in activity frequency during the measurement period.
- Of 41 patients wishing to quit smoking, four (9.75 percent) have quit and maintained cessation.
- Regarding changes in A1C, 26 participants had a pre-post A1C measurement.
- Of the 26 participants, 18 (69 percent) have experienced a decrease in their A1C measurements.
The program has substantial aspirations moving forward. “We’re excited to have received accreditation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to lead the next National Diabetes Prevention Program in Spring 2020,” shared Bailey. “We’re also working toward implementing the national Baby & Me – Tobacco Free program with the support of the North Country Healthy Heart Network to address the New York State Prevention Agenda priority areas of promoting healthy women, infants, and children, and preventing chronic disease. We have so much going on and it’s truly gratifying to see the amazing results of our efforts to help those with chronic disease lead healthy and productive lives.”