By Ann Morgan
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an enormous strain on health systems in the North Country, requiring them to respond to a multitude of immediate, pressing needs — and they’ve done an admirable job given extraordinary circumstances.
Perhaps more admirable, though, is the work the North Country Healthy Heart Network’s partners have done to continue long term, proactive programs aimed at reducing the risk of chronic disease. Through the North Country Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition, these organizations are demonstrating a commitment to replicating a successful program piloted by Adirondack Health: Moving Forward Together (MFT) to Prevent Diabetes.
Now in its third year, the Chronic Disease Prevention Coalition is funded by a grant from the Charles D. Cook Office of Rural Health. Year one focused on assessing regional and partner capacity, identifying gaps and opportunities for improvement, and building stakeholder interest and support; year two was spent developing a plan for addressing those gaps and opportunities.
In 2021, the coalition will establish evidence-based diabetes prevention and self-management programs that have capacity to annually support at least .5% of the region’s diabetic and prediabetic patient population — approximately 144 people per year based on our 2020 research. That means individuals looking for support to prevent or better manage their condition will have increasingly more opportunities to join programs that can help. Programs can already be found at compasshp.org.
Members of the Coalition that will be offering programs include area hospitals and behavioral health agencies, county and tribal Offices for the Aging, the North Country Center for Independence, the Community Health Center of the North Country, Clinton County RSVP, Essex County Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Hudson Headwaters Health Network.
To weather the storm of a global pandemic and continue proactive work to address our population’s long term health needs is no small feat. The Heart Network extends its gratitude to its coalition partners and all healthcare organizations across the North Country for their unwavering commitment to building healthier communities.
Ann Morgan is executive director of the North Country Healthy Heart Network. To learn more, visit heartnetwork.org