Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We’ve moved!

As you may have heard, we’ve recently redesigned our You’re the Cure website. The new site now contains our Illinois blog as well as state advocate stories, state-specific facts and events all in one place! Be sure to bookmark our new address and continue to follow our advocacy work. Our new address is:

Thank you for your conversation here, be sure to bring that with us as we move – we don’t know what we’d do without you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quinn signs law to enhance physical education in Illinois schools

WLS-AM: August 25, 2012

CHICAGO (WLS) - A new law signed by Gov. Pat Quinn Saturday is intended to enhance physical education in Illinois schools. Additionally, the governor, who led a group of walkers on a half-mile trek through Oak Park, continued to urge Illinois residents to take the “Walk Across Illinois Challenge,” a program the governor launched to improve the health and fitness of Illinoisans.

“Today we want to encourage people to be fit, be healthy and walk across Illinois,” Quinn said. “This new law is another step in the right direction to help the citizens of Illinois improve their health and wellness.”

Senate Bill 3374, sponsored by Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Plainfield) and Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Rock Falls), creates the Enhance Physical Education Task Force to examine existing physical education strategies and programs, assess the impact of physical education, and identify and leverage local, state and federal resources for physical education, a release from Quinn’s office said. An initiative of the Illinois Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the bill was supported by major teachers’ and school organizations, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association and other health advocates. The law is effective immediately.

“This law helps us take a serious look at the positive impact PE has on students. It benefits them both physically and mentally. Studies show that physical activity increases the ability to concentrate and improves cognitive function. There is a connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind,” Holmes said.

“As a former coach and physical education teacher, I know first-hand the value of physical fitness,” Mitchell said. “This Task Force will help put Illinois schoolchildren on the right path.”

The new Task Force will collaborate with the Governor’s Council on Health and Physical Fitness, which was created in January to develop practical ideas to help Illinois residents embrace healthier lifestyles.

Originally launched by Quinn when he was Lieutenant Governor, “Walk Across Illinois” is an interactive program which encourages participants to walk 167 miles in a single year, roughly the distance across Illinois from Rock Island on the Mississippi River to Chicago on Lake Michigan.

Residents wishing to take the “Walk Across Illinois Challenge” may visit, where they can register, log their mileage, learn about hiking routes and get helpful tips. A chart enables you to convert other activities to mileage, such as 30 minutes of bowling or 20 minutes of lawn-mowing being equivalent to one mile.

Once a walker has reached 167 miles, they will receive a certificate from the governor. Illinois has approximately 270 hiking trails, 63 miles of walkable Lake Michigan shoreline, thousands of miles of riverfront paths and countless neighborhood walks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Study Finds Snack, Soda Regulations In Schools Help Kids' Health

Published: August 13, 2012 by Eliza Barclay

Lately, parents, teachers and policymakers have been experimenting with all kinds of different ways to keep unhealthy food out of schools. Some schools are limiting bake sales, as we reported earlier this year, while others are preparing lunches from scratch. Since a lot of these policies are new, it's often hard to tell which ones will be most effective at reversing childhood obesity rates.

But research published online today in the journal Pediatrics suggests that laws implemented a decade ago to restrict snack and drink sales outside of school lunch programs are working to keep kids from gaining extra pounds they don't need.

The study, lead by Daniel Taber, a health policy expert at the University of Illinois at Chicago, looked at kids in fifth through eighth grade from 40 states between 2003 and 2006. The researchers compared changes in body mass index and obesity status in 11 states with strict laws on food sold in schools with similar data from 29 states without such laws.

Overall, they found that the kids in states with detailed nutrition standards were less likely to remain overweight or obese than kids in states without the laws. And they said that kids were more likely to avoid unwanted weight gain if the laws at their elementary schools were reinforced at higher grade levels.

"We went in wanting to see if stronger laws have a big impact, and what emerged was how important it is for these laws to be consistent over time across grade levels," Taber tells Shots. "And the good news is that the trend [nationwide] is that these laws are become stronger over time."

The most effective laws have very specific guidelines for food sold in vending machines, a la carte in the cafeteria, or at campus stores, the researchers say.

The researchers caution that their analysis doesn't prove that the laws cause kids to lose weight. But they note that they controlled for many factors, like income and race, to tease out the impact of the laws on kids' health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, also a supporter of NPR, funded the study. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]  For the original article link, please click here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

IAPO Physical Activity WG Announcement: Upcoming Webinar - Enhanced PE

Please join the upcoming webinar: Exercise Your Mind: Collaborating to Enhance Physical Education in Illinois Schools! This webinar will take place on Friday, August 17 @ 1pm. A flyer for the webinar, including a description and learning objectives, is attached. We appreciate your help in sharing this opportunity with school officials, school boards, community coalitions, teachers, students, health departments and other local partners! You can also share this link with your partners:

In partnership with Healthy Schools Campaign and Illinois State Board of Education, 1.5 CPDU Recertification Credit (Continuing Professional Development Unit) will be awarded for attendance at this webinar. Attendance will be verified through webinar host, and attendance records will be maintained. Standard Evaluation and Evidence of Completion forms (ISBE 77-21) will be provided to participants who complete the activity.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

CLOCC applauds the creation and implementation of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund

Yesterday, Governor Pat Quinn, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and IFF (formerly Illinois Facilities Fund) announced the newly established Illinois Fresh Food Fund.  Created in 2011 with an initial investment of $10 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding, the purpose of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund is to support healthy food retail in the highest-need communities across the state.  Additional funding for the program comes from a $3.5 million grant that IFF secured through the U.S. Department of Treasury's Healthy Food Financing Initiative and also from banks and foundations.  The Illinois Fresh Food Fund is modeled primarily after the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative.  The initiative uses market analysis, leveraged capital, and public policy to stimulate grocery store development and increase the availability of fresh food in documented low access areas. 

CLOCC has supported the creation of the Illinois Fresh Food Fund over the last several years, prioritizing it as a Policy Agenda item.  CLOCC's Executive Director, Dr. Adam Becker, participated in the Illinois Food Marketing Task Force which began working in 2008 and submitted recommendations to the Governor's Office in 2009 to create a fresh food financing initiative.  In 2010, the General Assembly passed SJR 0072, calling upon DCEO to create the Illinois Fresh Food Fund. 

CLOCC and its federally-funded Communities Putting Prevention to Work project, Healthy Places, applaud the Illinois Fresh Food Fund as one mechanism to address food access issues in the State of Illinois.  We will promote the availability of these funds to encourage retailers to serve Chicago communities and strive to ensure that the Illinois Fresh Food Fund is coordinated with other current local efforts through Healthy Places aiming to maximize healthy food access in Chicago.  These other efforts include: the creation of the Chicago Food Plan, piloting a healthy corner store initiative, support for healthy vending in government buildings and other locations, and establishing parameters for a network of mobile produce carts in underserved communities across the city.  
We have already seen a number of successes in each of these efforts.  For more information on progress and ways to get involved, go to   

We encourage the CLOCC network and Healthy Places partners to spread the word about the Illinois Fresh Food Fund and encourage food entrepreneurs to consider applying, especially those that would be well-supported by local communities.  For more information on the Illinois Fresh Food Fund, please visit  

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chicago Tribune front-page story on Chicago's STEMI system

On the front page of Friday’s Chicago Tribune is Julie Deardorff’s story on 12-lead EKGs and the new STEMI system of care in Chicago that began on May 15th of this year. The American Heart Association and its Mission: Lifeline initiative are featured throughout the article, including quotes from Metro Chicago Board immediate past president Dr. Stephen Archer and other key experts who played a significant part in making this system a reality. It includes powerful examples of Chicagoland patients who had life-saving outcomes as a result of the system.   

Special thanks to Dr. Archer, Alex Meixner, Art Miller, Kathleen O’Neill, Mark Peysakhovich and Julia Kersey with their rigorous behind-the-scenes work and helpful guidance throughout the process of this story’s construction. Dr. Gary Schaer, Dr. Richard Feldman, Dr. Atman Shah, John Easton and Leslee Stein-Spencer, among others, also deserve and receive our extensive gratitude for playing critical roles in this story.

Most importantly, thank you to our outstanding volunteers and staff in Chicago who played a significant part in the arrival and implementation of this vital system.       

The story can be found here (free registration required or Facebook log-in accepted) and full text of the story is below.

City ambulances finally equipped to detect severe heart attacks

Thanks to NATO summit, people suffering 'widow-makers' can now be rushed to the right hospital in time

By Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune reporter
July 20, 2012
Chicago's Brian Thies was at home when the ache he'd been feeling all day suddenly turned into crushing chest pain. Inside the ambulance, paramedics quickly determined he was suffering from the deadliest type of heart attack, an aptly named "widow-maker."
The ambulance took him directly to Rush University Medical Center, where a specialized team was expecting him in the catheter lab. Just 40 minutes after the call to 911, Dr. Cliff Kavinsky opened Thies' right coronary artery, which was 100 percent blocked.
Every minute counts during a widow-maker, when blood flow is cut off in a major artery leading to the heart.
Until recently, Chicago ambulances lacked a key piece of equipment used to diagnose the most severe heart attacks, technically known as STEMIs. But thanks to creative funding and dogged health officials, most of Chicago's 75 ambulances now carry the devices, called 12-lead electrocardiograms or EKGs.
Diagnosing a widow-maker in the field — rather than at the hospital — can speed up treatment and dramatically improve a patient's chances of survival. Not all hospitals have specialized teams that can treat STEMIs around the clock, so it's essential that these patients are taken directly to one that does. The new monitors also allow paramedics to alert the hospital that a STEMI case is on the way, giving the staff time to marshal resources.
"We've essentially extended the hospital out to the community," said University of Chicago cardiologist Stephen Archer, president of the American Heart Association's Metro Chicago board of directors, who has been pushing for the STEMI system of care for at least three years.
The Tribune reported in 2009 that Chicago was one of the only major cities in the country whose emergency medical responders did not have 12-lead EKGs, which provide a comprehensive picture of the heart's electrical activity. Instead, the city's ambulances used three-lead EKGs, which can pick up an irregular heartbeat but don't have the depth to diagnose a STEMI, short for ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction.
Fire officials say that although they were eager to get the equipment, patient care was not being compromised. Some health officials disagree.
"It was a big problem," said Dr. Richard Feldman, a medical director for part of the city's Emergency Medical Services system who is based at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Chicago was "way behind the curve" in terms of instituting a program of care for STEMI patients, he said.
"There wasn't sufficient will on the part of the city to elevate this to a higher priority," said Dr. Gary Schaer, an interventional cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center. Schaer, co-chair of a regional STEMI advisory committee, met with the heart association and the mayor's office multiple times to lobby for the 12-lead EKGs. "It was very frustrating," he said.
Officials had estimated that $3.2 million would be needed to buy 100 of the 12-lead devices, said Leslee Stein-Spencer, the Fire Department's manager of medical administration and regulatory compliance.
In the end, Chicago's role as host city for May's NATO summit opened up an unexpected source of grant money. To help bolster the city's emergency response capability, the Fire Department was allowed to buy the equipment with funding from theU.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a cost that turned out to be far lower than predicted.
In addition to the new monitors, Chicago's STEMI system includes a network of 25 hospitals in and near the city that are designated as STEMI-centers. At these hospitals, specialized teams are available 24/7 to open the blocked artery within about 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital.
The STEMI network also includes a new system for tracking severe heart attacks as well as quality control guidelines established by the American Heart Association as part of a national initiative to improve heart attack care called Mission: Lifeline. About 60 percent of the nation, including many Chicago suburbs, is now covered by a similar STEMI network, Archer said.
Each year, nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. and 1,500 Chicagoans experience a STEMI, according to the American Heart Association, which has made improving care for STEMI heart attacks a national priority.
The most effective treatment involves angioplasty, or clearing the blockage by opening the artery using a small balloon. A type of scaffolding called a stent is then inserted to prop it open.
Archer said the survival rate for STEMI patients is more than 95 percent when the "door to balloon" time is less than 90 minutes. The term refers to the period between the patient's arrival in the emergency room and the moment blood flow is restored. If that window is missed, the patient has a nearly 50 percent chance of dying.
In the past, Chicago's EMS teams routinely took heart attack patients to the closest hospital. But not every hospital can perform a balloon angioplasty around the clock, Archer said. If the STEMI is diagnosed at a hospital that can't perform the procedure, the patient must be transferred, a costly and potentially life-threatening delay.
After the Tribune's 2009 article, the American Heart Association convened a board meeting to start laying the groundwork for a new system of care, even though the funding wasn't yet available.
The committee, which included members of the Fire Department and EMS officials, spent a year designating which Chicago-area hospitals are equipped to take STEMI patients. It also hammered out specific ground rules. STEMI hospitals, for example, can't divert patients just because they are busy.
Meanwhile, fire officials discovered they could upgrade the current monitors to 12-lead capability by buying software and the 12 leads for far less than the original $3.2 million estimate. Once the funding finally materialized, the city spent $800,000 on 100 monitors, which includes equipment for the current fleet of 60 front-line ambulances as well as special event ambulances and spares, said Stein-Spencer.
The first STEMI transport was made May 15, five days before the NATO summit, when a 52-year-old man was taken to Vanguard West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, the closest STEMI hospital. He was treated with angioplasty and has recovered, hospital officials said.
Since then, 167 STEMI transport cases have been reported, Stein-Spencer said. One of them was Joyce Martin, who woke up in her Bronzeville home July 4 with indigestion and shortness of breath. Martin, 66, thought it was gas. Instead, the paramedics determined it was a widow-maker.
Bypassing a closer hospital, the ambulance took her to the University of Chicago medical center, a designated STEMI location, said Dr. Atman Shah, director of U. of C.'s coronary care unit. "She came right to the ER, and our team of physicians was waiting at the door," he said. "Within 70 minutes, we'd opened up her artery."
Thies, a 32-year-old graduate student, was getting ready to head out for an afternoon class two weeks ago when his chest pain intensified. He couldn't breathe, sit or stand. He called 911, but it didn't cross his mind that he was having a heart attack until a paramedic told him.
"I thought it was a respiratory issue because I had trouble breathing," he said.
Despite having a key artery completely blocked, Thies went home with normal heart function, doctors said. He has already returned to his business classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Monday, July 23, 2012

SSEEO/AHA Volunteer Orientation and Training

What: Volunteer Orientation & Training

We invite you to attend the upcoming volunteer orientation session where we will educate you on the history behind the AHA and Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO), their respective missions and the volunteer opportunities.

When & Where:
August 23rd * 5:30 – 7pm
St. Alexis Medical Center, 1555 Barrington Road
Hoffman Estates, IL
4 West – Room B
(Light dinner will be provided)

Who: Open to all current and new volunteers looking to ignite their passion!

Please RSVP by August 17th to: or call SSEEO at 1-888-988-8047

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pulse Ox on CNN

A test that could save your baby's life
CNN video on Pulse Ox

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quit smoking now, save more than money

On June 24th, cigarettes will cost an extra dollar per pack in Illinois due to the recently-enacted increase in the state tax. Taxes on other tobacco products will go up a week later. We know this is bad news for smokers. In fact, we’re counting on it! This gives us an opportunity to remind smokers that now is a perfect time to quit. If you continue to smoke, not only will tobacco cost you more money, it is likely that it will disable and/or kill you. That’s the real cost of tobacco use. Is that a price you and your family are ready to pay?

Kathleen L. Grady, PhD, APN, FAAN
American Heart Association Illinois Advocacy Committee Chair

Looking for help to quit smoking?  Check out the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at

Thursday, June 14, 2012

American Heart Association Statement: Gov. Quinn Signs Cigarette Tax into Law

Below is a statement from Kathleen L. Grady, PhD, APN, FAAN, Illinois Advocacy Committee Chair for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association:

“The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association thank Gov. Pat Quinn for signing SB 2194, which increases the cigarette tax by $1 per pack as part of package to restructure and rescue Medicaid, into law today. We salute the governor’s leadership and support for the cigarette tax throughout this process, and we applaud both Gov. Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly for making this critical legislation a reality.

“The cigarette tax increase benefits the state’s taxpayers in numerous ways, most notably by bringing in over $700 million in much-needed annual revenue for the state to shore up Medicaid. At the same time the tax would encourage nearly 60,000 current smokers in the state to quit the habit, thus preventing more than 50,000 smoking-related deaths in Illinois. The drop in smokers would lower the cost of health care services for tobacco-related health problems and ease the financial strain on Medicaid, and our taxpayers, even more.

“Concern still lingers about some of the drastic cuts to the Medicaid program, but we know that the cuts would have been gravely worse without a cigarette tax hike and the subsequent revenue that the tax increase would bring in. There is no doubt that this is the most acceptable revenue option available in keeping Medicaid from complete collapse.

“We stand with Gov. Quinn as he signs this bill into law, thus saving Medicaid and putting the health of our citizens first. We ask that other organizations stand by this new law that both Medicaid and tens of thousands of lives in Illinois.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

Why the Obesity Epidemic is Growing

Check out this clip from MSNBC's Morning Joe on the growing childhood obesity epidemic:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cigarette tax hike heading to Gov. Quinn's desk

Posted May 29, 2012 @ 03:45 PM
Last update May 29, 2012 @ 03:58 PM
The State Journal-Register

Lighting up is going to cost more Illinois

The Senate on Tuesday approved a $1-per-pack increase in the state cigarette tax, paving the way for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign it into law. Quinn called for the tax hike as part of his plan to close a $2.7 billion hole in the state’s Medicaid budget. The vote was 31-27.

Republicans opposed the tax increase, which brings the state's tax on a pack to $1.98, saying deeper cuts should have been made to Medicaid programs.  Lawmakers already approved a bill that saves the state $1.6 billion in Medicaid costs through program cuts and rate reductions to providers.

“It’s not so much we are trying to protect tobacco use, but rather the continuing pattern we see in the Senate of always looking for more revenue,” said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. “It’s an approach that continues to look for revenue, revenue, revenue rather than tightening the budget.”

Senators whose districts border other states with lower tobacco taxes said people will drive out of Illinois to buy cigarettes.

“People will go across the river to buy cigarettes and most likely will fill up with gas, most likely will buy other items at the convenience store,” said Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon. “We are going to lose revenue most likely because of unrelated goods bought across borders when people go there to buy cigarettes.”

In addition to hiking the tax on cigarettes, Senate Bill 2194 also doubles the state taxes on other tobacco products like cigars and pipe tobacco. The tobacco taxes together are expected to bring in $350 million, even if experts are correct that 80,000 adults will quit smoking because of the taxes.

The tobacco tax money will be matched with federal funds to cover $700 million in Medicaid expenses.

The bill also contains a tax on hospitals that will be used to leverage additional federal Medicaid funds and cover $100 million in state expenses.

The final component of the bill spells out in greater detail how non-profit hospitals can maintain their property tax exemption by providing charity care. The issue was clouded after a state Supreme Court decision determined that a hospital was not providing enough charitable care to qualify for the exemption.

Cigarette tax hike approved by Illinois Senate committee

Posted May 29, 2012 @ 02:17 PM
An Illinois Senate committee has agreed to raise cigarette taxes by $1 a pack, setting the stage for a final vote on the proposal.The tax increase passed 9-4 along party lines.

If the full Senate approves the idea, it goes to the governor. The House approved the bill last week.

Democrats argue the increase will help close a hole in the state Medicaid budget and also help prevent smoking. Republicans object to any tax increase.

Officials face a $2.7 million budget problem for Medicaid. They've already approved spending cuts of roughly $1.6 billion.

The tax is supposed to generate about $350 million. That would then be matched by the federal government to yield about $700 million.

Other tobacco products would see state taxes rise too.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

American Heart Association’s Go Red Heart Match Connects Women in the Fight against Heart Disease

The facts are clear. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, affecting more than 42 million women in the United States. No one should have to fight heart disease alone. Getting support against this often silent, hidden, and misunderstood killer just became easier.
As part of the Go Red for Women movement, the American Heart Association offers Go Red Heart Match, a free online program that connects women so that they can support one another in the fight against heart disease. The program is simple but impactful. Women create an online profile and search for other women with similar heart disease experiences. Heart Match helps women make the connection so that they can build a one-on-one, supportive relationship with a woman who truly understands their journey—the pain, the victories, and everything in between.
Visit to learn more—because women don’t have to fight heart disease on their own. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

AHA in the News: How to Avoid the Biggest Health Risks; U.S. News and World Report

On Monday, May 7, the U.S. News & World Report published a must-read article that highlights the American Heart Association’s ‘Life’s Simple 7’ and praises our volunteers, staff and supporters for all the work being done to educate Americans on the importance of healthy living to reduce the prevalence of heart attack and stroke. Below you’ll find a link to this excellent article. Please take a few minutes to read it and then pass it along to share with our many supporters, donors and volunteers.
“How to Avoid the Biggest Health Risks”
Summary: U.S. News & World Report article, May 7, 2012
This excellent article, featuring the lifesaving work of the American Heart Association, explains how more Americans could escape an early death by following simple advice:
·         * Adopt a healthy lifestyle
·         * Know your risk
·         * Get screened
·         * Know the warning signs
According to the article, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that abiding by six or more of the American Heart Association’s “cardiovascular health metrics” — not smoking, being physically active, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, as well as normal levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol – “seems to make people about 75 percent less likely to die of heart disease than by adhering to only one or none.” 
The good news is that adhering to the AHA’s cardiovascular health metrics or ‘Life’s Simple 7’ works to lower the hazard of cardiovascular disease mortality. The bad news is that according to the JAMA  article, the prevalence of having all seven factors at ideal levels was less than two percent. Imagine what the impact would be if every American used the information provided in ‘Life’s Simple 7’ on the AHA’s ‘My Life Check’ website to take action to improve their health and longevity.
We can take pride in our progress but there is so much more that needs to be done. We must make sure we don’t lose ground in our fight against heart diseases and stroke because we really can help others learn and live. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of American Heart Association volunteers, supporters and staff across the country, amazing progress is being made.
Thank you for your support of our lifesaving mission. . .
Kevin Harker
Executive Vice PresidentMidwest Affiliate

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO) invites you to join a teleconference series for stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals!

The SSEEO Toll-Free Teleconference Series builds community, provides support and shares information by connecting survivors, caregivers, health professionals and other stroke stakeholders.  The calls last approximately 60 minutes with the last 30 minutes reserved for questions and conversation. Please don’t forget to register by following the instructions below.
Tuesday, June 12th, 12:00-1:00pm central time: Life after Stroke:  Changes, Challenges and Commitment presented by Laura Meller, MS, APN, CNS-BC from Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.

You have survived a stroke, and now you are home. What’s next? Setting reasonable goals regarding important areas of your life may be a good next step.  This teleconference will discuss the following;   
  • Recovering as much independence and mobility as possible
  • Living your life as fully and comfortably as possible after your stroke
  • And of course your attitude and efforts

Laura Meller MS, APN, CNS-BC is a licensed advance practice nurse focused on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the stroke patient population.  Laura began her work with stroke patients as a critical care nurse.  She is the Stroke Coordinator at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and enjoys working with her interdisciplinary team to make a difference in the lives of her stroke patients in the acute hospital.  She also keeps in contact with her stroke patients while facilitating the Life After Stroke Support Group. 

IMPORTANT CALL-IN INFORMATION: Participation on the calls is absolutely free but advance registration is required due to limited line availability. Please contact us at 1-888-988-8047 or and provide the following information: first and last name(s), mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number.  We will get back to you with an 800 call-in number and pass code, which will allow you to access the conference call.  Registration deadline is June 11th. 

Listen & Support Educate & Learn Advocate & Change

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week honors first responders in Illinois

Posted May 21, 2012 @ 06:28 AM
CHICAGO -- It's Emergency Medical Services Week in Illinois.
Gov. Pat Quinn proclaimed the week to honor more than 18,000 first responders in the state and those who support them.
To coincide with the week, the Illinois Department of Public Health has announced that the Grand Ridge Volunteer Fire Department in La Salle County is the winner of the department's annual Emergency Medical Services Award.

Illinois officials say that during the massive 2011 blizzard in Illinois volunteers at the department put together multiple rescue teams. Some went out on snowmobiles, plows and trucks to assist people trapped in the snow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Go Red Tell 5 Community Conversation in Pilsen - May 26th

We’re excited to be hosting our first Go Red Tell 5 Community Conversation in Pilsen on Saturday, May 26th from 10:00-12:00 at Alivio Medical Center.  This program will allow individuals to have an open Q&A with healthcare professionals as well as learn about Go Red Por Tu Corazon. 

Tell 5! Community Conversations
This special forum for Latina women and community members will take place in Pilsen
Saturday, May 26, 2012
10 am - 12 pm 
Alivio Medical Center/Casa Maravilla
2021 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60608

Hosted by the American Heart Association and facilitated by community leaders, this event will feature an open conversation in Spanish with women and community members about the challenges they face relevant to their heart health.  Participants will leave the Tell 5! forum with solutions and resources to make positive changes in their own lives and the lives of their families. 

Registration by Saturday, May 19, will be appreciated. 
Please call 312-476-6679 (English) or 312-476-6680 (Spanish) 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Senator Durbin’s Bill to Close Tobacco Tax Loopholes Will Save Lives By Stopping Tax Avoidance

Statement of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Public Health Association
WASHINGTON, DC – Our organizations strongly support the legislation introduced today by U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) to close loopholes in federal tobacco tax rates that have harmed public health by encouraging use of lower-taxed tobacco products and cost governments more than a billion dollars in revenue since 2009.  This bill to equalize tax rates on all tobacco products, including pipe tobacco, cigars and smokeless tobacco, is a necessary and welcome measure that will reduce tobacco use, especially among youth, and stop rampant tax avoidance.  We applaud Senator Durbin for taking action to help the government recover lost tax revenue while improving health and saving lives. Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) joined him in introducing the legislation.
The Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act of 2009 increased the federal tax on cigarettes and set the tax rate for small cigars and roll-your-own cigarettes at the same level as cigarettes.  However, larger cigars, smokeless tobacco and pipe tobacco remain taxed at dramatically lower rates than cigarettes, making them more affordable to youth and spawning widespread tax avoidance.  In particular, roll-your-own tobacco has falsely been labeled as pipe tobacco, and small cigar manufacturers have shifted to lower-taxed products.   While cigarette sales declined significantly after the 2009 tobacco tax increase, the availability of lower-taxed products has encouraged use of these products.
According to a Government Accountability Office study issued in April, the disparity in tax rates “created opportunities for tax avoidance and led to significant market shifts by manufacturers and price sensitive consumers toward lower taxed products.”  The GAO found that monthly sales of lower-taxed pipe tobacco jumped from 240,000 pounds in January 2009 to more than 3 million pounds in September 2011, while roll-your-own tobacco sales dropped from 2 million pounds to 315,000 pounds. During the same period, large cigar sales increased from 411 million to more than 1 billion, while small cigars dropped from about 430 million to 60 million.
Federal revenue losses due to these market shifts range from $615 million to $1.1 billion from April 2009 through fiscal year 2011, the GAO estimated.  A separate study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the relabeling of roll-your-own tobacco as pipe tobacco cost federal and state governments $1.3 billion in revenue from April 2009 to August 2011.
The GAO recommended that Congress consider equalizing tax rates on roll-your-own and pipe tobacco and consider options for reducing tax avoidance due to the rate differential between small and large cigars.  Senator Durbin’s bill would fix these disparities by increasing taxes on under-taxed tobacco products so they are equal to the cigarette tax rate.  Among other steps, it would increase the pipe tobacco tax to the same rate as roll-your-own tobacco.  It would also ensure that all large cigars are taxed at least as much as a cigarette and would increase the current maximum tax for a large cigar to about $1.  The bill would also increase the tax rate for snuff and chewing tobacco so that it approximates the tax on a pack of cigarettes.
By closing these revenue-losing loopholes, the Durbin bill will reduce tobacco consumption and save lives. The evidence is clear that raising tobacco prices through higher taxes is one of the most effective ways to reduce tobacco use, especially among children.  Closing these loopholes will help more Americans quit using tobacco and help prevent young people from getting hooked in the first place.
The recent Surgeon General’s report called tobacco use a “pediatric epidemic,” and pointed to increased smokeless tobacco use among high school students, as well as increased use of cigars, as growing concerns. Senator Durbin’s bill will help stem these disturbing trends.
Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans each year and costing $96 billion in health care expenditures annually.  Senator Durbin today has taken important action to reduce tobacco’s terrible toll on our nation.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Voice of The Southern: Good start on Medicaid, but too extreme on rate cuts

April 29, 2012 * The Southern 
Our view: A proposal to cut Medicaid rates for hospitals would hurt health care and the well-being of patients statewide.

Gov. Pat Quinn walked into a financial quagmire when he succeeded Rod Blagojevich as governor and the murky mess only deepened after he won the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Illinois became a deadbeat, nearly bankrupt state by spending beyond its means for years — since fiscally responsible Gov. Jim Edgar left the governor’s mansion in 1999. The problems were made worse through neglect and band-aid solutions that provided enough breathing room for another year of neglect, a practice known as “kicking the can” down the road.

Quinn deserves credit for deciding we are at the end of the road. It takes political courage to cut spending and a tough skin to withstand the blowback from voters accustomed to leaders who gave the people what they wanted — sometimes before the people knew they wanted it and usually without a plan to pay the resulting bills.

Quinn is walking through an especially nasty minefield in a critical attempt to stabilize the state’s Medicaid system. It is a necessary trek, however, because the Medicaid debt is expanding at a rate certain to sink the entire system.

This is not a contrived crisis and Quinn is not resorting to scare tactics to create a stampede for a quick-fix solution. A report by the respected and nonpartisan Civic Federation projects spending on Medicaid this fiscal year will be about $8.6 billion and will grow by 41 percent during the next five years, ultimately hitting $12.1 billion.

The Civic Federation, which focuses on financial issues, reports the current pile of unpaid Medicaid bills totals $2 billion and could hit $21 billion by 2017.

Quinn must act and his plan to pare $2.7 billion in Medicaid expenses is a big step in the right direction. The plan strives to save $1.35 billion through cuts, reductions and efficiencies, including efforts to verify eligibility, prevent fraud, eliminate or reduce optional services and patient populations, prevent over-use or waste, adjust rates to reflect modern realities and implement all reforms included in the Medicaid reform law of 2011.

Those are excellent strategies, for the most part. We also salute the idea of raising $337.5 million in new revenue through a $1-per-pack tax hike on cigarette sales. The tax hike would enable the state to collect another $337.5 million in federal matching funds. It is sound public policy to seek funding for the well-known health problems associated with smoking from those who choose to smoke.

The trouble with Quinn’s Medicaid overhaul is in another area: $350 million in Medicaid rate cuts for hospitals. Hospitals in our state already are struggling to meet the costs of Medicaid care, especially because of the alarming growth in the number of state residents who qualify for Medicaid. That’s the real problem.

Rex Budde, the president and CEO of Southern Illinois Healthcare, recently wrote about the Medicaid crisis confronting hospitals, even without the difficulties associated with the rate cuts proposed by Quinn, in a “Guest View” commentary printed in this newspaper April 10.

“Illinois has one of the lowest Medicaid costs per patient in the country, spending only $5,773 per beneficiary — putting us in 44th place and well below the national average of $6,826.

“Enrollment growth, not hospital rates, is the reason for increased Medicaid spending. The number of Illinois residents on Medicaid has almost doubled in the past 10 years, due in part to the economic recession,” Budde said.

Southern Illinois Healthcare already is owed millions in late Medicaid payments from the state. Budde recently said the total was at least $26 million.

Imagine what will happen if hospitals are expected to cope with reduced Medicaid rates on top of the existing hardship. The Illinois Hospital Association isn’t blowing smoke when it warns the cuts could force some hospitals to close, eliminate services, trim jobs and create “health care deserts” in several portions of the state — including Southern Illinois. Medical care isn’t easily attained now, short of emergencies.

Instead of asking providers to accept reduced payments for care they are required to provide, every step must be taken to ensure Medicaid benefits are provided only to those patients who truly are in need. A doubling of the eligibility list in 10 years is tough to accept as legitimate. The state’s population isn’t dramatically growing and the recession, though lengthy and harsh, was less responsible for the growth than a state government unaccustomed to saying “enough!”

Illinois has 2.7 million Medicaid recipients and a total of 12.86 million residents. Children make up more than 60 percent of those eligible for Medicaid. Adults with disabilities, who comprise about 10 percent of the total, account for more than 35 percent of costs. It won’t be popular, but closer scrutiny must be devoted to Medicaid for children.

It won’t be possible to close the gap on the growing Medicaid debt entirely by trimming eligibility and eliminating fraud, but the actual reduction might be higher than Quinn’s proposal estimated. Our lawmakers need to look at other solutions for closing the gap instead of cutting rates for providers. Alcohol abuse is linked to many health problems; how much revenue might be generated by boosting the taxes on beer, wine and spirits?

Instead of putting state hospitals on the defensive, our legislative leaders should be working with the Illinois Hospital Association to develop realistic alternatives to excessive Medicaid rate cuts. With the state’s next fiscal year set to begin July 1, there is adequate but not plentiful time to thoroughly review all aspects of Quinn’s Medicaid proposal.

Bipartisan teamwork and statesmanship are especially in need. Quinn’s administration has simplified the Medicaid reform task by offering up plans to drive revenue and achieve real savings. What’s needed now is a comprehensive and deep review of all alternatives to an excessive Medicaid rate reduction that only will harm health care.

To read full article on The Southern

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May is American Stroke Month

It’s time to get enlightened about stroke.  Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke.  It’s the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability.  Make stroke awareness a priority in your life and enlighten those around you. 

Please take a moment to learn or re-learn the warning signs of a stroke.  It is equally important to know and understand your risk factors for stroke so you can take steps to reduce your risk of having one.

We also wanted to share an update that Senator Mark Kirk released on this recovery from stroke:

Today, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk released a video outlining the progress of his recovery after suffering from an ischemic stroke in January and expressed his deep gratitude to the people of Illinois for allowing him the time he needs to recover.
"I want to thank everyone especially for the patience they have given me to recover from a big stroke," said Kirk. "[And also] to people of Illinois for granting me the honor to represent them in the United States Senate. I cannot wait to get back to work to vote to spend less, borrow less and tax less to fix our economy."  In the video, Kirk also gives thanks to the doctors and nurses at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) for helping him to regain his walking abilities. He is working to be able to climb the 45 steps it will take to get to the front door of the Senate. 
Click here to view the full video. 
Senator Kirk was first taken into care and underwent three surgeries at Northwestern Memorial hospital. Kirk later moved to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) on February 10, where he began in-patient therapy. On May 3, Senator Kirk was released from the RIC and moved home with his family. 
Kirk has begun a unique, rigorous out-patient walking program for post-stroke patients at RIC. The trial is focused on improving gait pattern through an intense regimen of continuous walking on flat surfaces, stairs and a treadmill. Kirk has walked more than 10 miles altogether since he arrived at RIC in February. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chicago hospital group to drop sugar-sweetened drinks

MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, one of four Vanguard hospitals in Cook County, is offering healthier choices in its cafeteria and vending machines. (Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / April 24, 2012
By Monica Eng, Chicago Tribune reporter * 9:51 p.m. CDT, April 24, 2012

Salad bars stocked with fruits, grains and heart-healthy veggies. Meat produced without antibiotics. And farmers markets right outside the building.
In recent years, hospitals have been cleaning up their food choices, adding healthier fare for patients, visitors and employees. Now, Vanguard Health Chicago, which operates four hospitals in Cook County, is taking the next step, one that few others have taken: a phasing out of all "sugar-loaded beverages,'' including soda and sports and energy drinks, starting now.
Over the course of this year, the hospital group hopes to refine its choices, eventually phasing out diet drinks and sweetened juices until it offers only unsweetened drinks or those that contain less than about a teaspoon of sugar per 12-ounce serving. By comparison, a can of Coke contains more than 7 teaspoons.

The change comes at a time when the American obesity rate has hit an all-time high and certain foods, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, are coming under increased scrutiny for their role. One government-funded study found that sugar-sweetened beverages accounted for 20 to 40 percent of all weight gained by Americans between 1977 and 2007.
"Sodas, sports drinks and other drinks that are artificially loaded with sugar are associated with a host of negative health effects and increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, dental problems and even cancer," said Dr. Anthony J. Tedeschi, Vanguard Health's chief medical officer. "The health care community has an obligation not only to treat but to help prevent these conditions, some of which are at epidemic levels."
Once the changes have been implemented, Vanguard Health Chicago says, more than "6,000 employees and tens of thousands of patients and visitors will substantively benefit from a healthier, reduced sugar environment."

"This really fit in with our mission to help people achieve health for life," said Scott Steiner, the chief operating officer of MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, which is part of the Vanguard Health Chicago and has, among changes, removed its deep fryers, overhauled vending machine offerings and added a high-nutrition, low-cost salad bar in its cafeteria.

Steiner said that some of the changes have elicited grumbling from staff members, but "with each change the grumbling has decreased, and for everyone one who complains about the changes, two people thank us and say that this is the kind of place where they want to work."

Calls to other large hospital groups in the Chicago area reveal that Vanguard is breaking new ground.
"I think this is pretty rare," said Cheryl Reed, communications director of University of Chicago Medical Center, where sugar-sweetened beverages are available. The hospital does offer calorie counts at its food outlets.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital also still serves sugary beverages but says it places them and other less healthful options in the back of the cafeteria, while more nutritious options are stationed at the front.

Rush University Medical Center and Advocate Health Care also said they have no plans to remove sugar-sweetened beverages. Cook County Hospitals, however, have recently implemented the county Health Department's "Rethink Your Drink" campaign that encourages citizens to choose more healthful beverage options.

"The posters for (Rethink Your Drink) are all over," Cook County Hospital Systems spokeswoman Marisa Kollias said. Although there are still sugar-sweetened beverages offered at Cook County facilities, the hospital now stocks more water in vending machines and is aggressively encouraging its employees to be mindful of the effects of sugar-sweetened beverages, Kollias said.
As national coordinator for the Healthy Food in Health Care program, Michelle Gottlieb said the sugar-sweetened beverage issue really took off for hospitals about a year ago.
This year 10 Boston hospitals announced a variety of strategies to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, including total elimination at one. The move came after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino phased out sugary beverages in all city buildings last year. Other notable municipal awareness efforts on the issue have sprouted in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Vermont and New York City, advocates note.
Much of the work on this issue has been supported by research from the American Heart Association, which has long urged Americans to limit added sugar consumption to reduce risks of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The group recommends no more than six and nine teaspoons a day for women and men, respectively. Government surveys, however, show average intake for Americans to be about 22 teaspoons.
Institutions that adopt sugary-beverage reduction measures are eligible for federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grants are meant to create healthier food environments, "where the healthy choice becomes the easy choice," according to the Illinois Public Health Institute's Elissa Bassler, who is offering technical assistance to Vanguard and hosting a symposium Wednesday on clinical approaches to reducing sugary beverage consumption in Chicago.
But not everyone agrees with the move.

"That's their prerogative, but we would view that move as unfortunate," said Tim Bramlet of the Illinois Beverage Association, which represents bottlers in the state. "We believe that having a healthy lifestyle is about balanced diet and moderation, and bans don't promote that."

John Bluford is a trustee and former chairman of the 6,000-strong American Hospital Association, where last year he led a formal call to "create a culture of health and wellness in hospitals … to lead the way in improving the health of the communities we serve."

At Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo., where Bluford serves as president and CEO, he said they have revamped the vending options, encouraged more walking and reduced the amount of fried foods in the cafeteria. He predicts the trend will gain steam as hospitals see a "return on investment."

"No. 1, those institution that have done it for a longer period have already seen positive results," he said. "And No. 2, it's the right thing to do."

Smoke-Free Parks & Playground and Smoke-Free Apartments Webinar

Event Name:          Smoke-Free Parks and Playgrounds Webinar

Many communities are interested in creating smokefree outdoor recreational areas such as parks, playgrounds, and sports fields. Eliminating secondhand smoke exposure and tobacco use in these areas can be an important way to improve public health.

What does it take to adopt and enforce this type of local policy?

Join us for this webinar on key legal and practical considerations involved in creating smokefree outdoor recreational areas. You'll learn about a variety of options and tools you can use to craft a strong smokefree parks policy, including model language and policy checklists. We'll also share tips on how to build a successful campaign for this kind of policy - and we'll recommend ways to carry out and enforce the policy effectively.

Date:                         Friday, May 4th
Time:                        10:00am -11:30am

Audience: Municipal leaders; representatives from park districts, law enforcement, & community organizations; health educators; community advocates; and parents

To Register: and clicking on the date of the webinar.

Event Name:              Smoke-Free Apartments

People who live in apartments, senior complexes, and other multi-unit housing developments are often exposed to secondhand smoke drifting in from a neighbor's unit. Secondhand smoke increases lung cancer and heart disease risk in adults and worsens asthma symptoms in children, with low-income families bearing the greatest burden.

How can community leaders create smokefree living environments to address this problem and improve public health?

Join us for this webinar to get a better understanding about smokefree housing policies and the different methods landlords, condominium associations, and local governments can use to make common areas and individual units nonsmoking.  We'll also share ideas on how to build community support for smokefree housing.

Date:                         Friday, May 11th
Time:                        10:00am -11:30am

To Register: and clicking on the date of the webinar.

Audience:  Landlords, Housing Authority representatives, municipal leaders, community organizations, health educators, community advocates, and parents

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SSEEO teleconference Stroke Striking Younger Patients Tuesday, May 8th

Stroke Survivors Empowering Each Other (SSEEO) invites you to join a teleconference series for stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals!

The SSEEO Toll-Free Teleconference Series builds community, provides support and shares information by connecting survivors, caregivers, health professionals and other stroke stakeholders. The calls last approximately 60 minutes with the last 30 minutes reserved for questions and conversation. Please don’t forget to register by following the instructions below.

Tuesday, May 8th, 12:00-1:00pm central time: Stroke Striking Younger Patients presented by Franco Campanella, D.O. Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Think of strokes and you probably picture someone in their 70s or older. But an alarming number of stroke survivors are young parents or even high school students. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that almost 25% of young Americans hospitalized for stroke are under the age of 65.

This teleconference will address the needs of the younger stroke survivors ranging in age from 18 to 55 by addressing the issues faced by those who may be hoping to go back to school or work and resume their family roles and responsibilities. After the teleconference the lines will be open to all participants to have an open discussion about their stroke and share ideas and support.

Franco Campanella, D.O. is a graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is a board certified neurologist since 2001. He is on staff at both Advocate Christ Medical Center (ACMC) in Oak Lawn, IL and Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, IL. At ACMC he is the Stroke Program Medical Director. He is an educator for both medical staff, patients and their families in all areas of neurology especially stroke. He has participated in many clinical research projects on stroke.

IMPORTANT CALL-IN INFORMATION: Participation on the calls is absolutely free but advance registration is required due to limited line availability. Please contact us at 1-888-988-8047 or and provide the following information: first and last name(s), mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number. We will get back to you with an 800 call-in number and pass code, which will allow you to access the conference call. Registration deadline is Monday May 7th.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New IDPH Director

Dr. La Mar Hasbrouck, formerly a county health official in NY, has been appointed the new head of IDPH.

Dr. La Mar Hasbrouck comes to the Department with an impressive record of eminent public health service around the globe as well as distinguished professional and scientific honors. A board certified medical internist, Dr. Hasbrouck most recently served as the Director of the Ulster County Department of Public Health in New York as well as Commissioner of the Ulster County Department of Mental health. He was the only county official in the state of New York to head both the health and mental health departments simultaneously. Prior to his public service in the state of New York, Dr. Hasbrouck spent 11 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He joined CDC in 1998 as a member of the Epidemic Intelligence Service, commonly referred to as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for diseases. While at CDC, Dr. Hasbrouck worked in Jamaica, Nigeria, Uganda, Haiti, Namibia, Vietnam, and was actively engaged in two of the largest global health initiatives in history: polio eradication, where he served as a consultant for the World Health Organization to Bangladesh; and, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, serving in a diplomatic appointment as the CDC Director and Chief of Party in Guyana, South American, for two years.

A graduate of the University of California-Berkeley and the UCLA – Drew School of Medicine, Dr. Hasbrouck completed his medical residency at the new York-Presbyterian Hospital. He has published numerous scientific articles, reports, and book chapters. He is also the recipient of several distinguished honors, including the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s Primary Health Care Policy Fellowship, the HHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service and the Meritorious Honor Award from the US Department of State.

As a physician, teacher, researcher, radio host, and public speaker, Dr. Hasbrouck has embarked on a mission to educate and empower underserved communities about their health. We are excited to have Dr. Hasbrouck lead the Illinois Department of Public Health through one of the most challenging yet dynamic periods in our state’s history. Please join us in welcoming Dr. La Mar Hasbrouck to IDPH.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Legislative Wins in Illinois!

Greetings Illinois Advocates!

We’re on a roll this week, as multiple bills we’ve been working on have taken big steps in the right direction! First, thanks to all of your help and building off of its passage in committee on Tuesday, House Bill 5480 passed the full House today by a huge margin of 108 – 1! This bill will make it easier for the American Heart Association to qualify to participate in the annual Illinois state employee giving campaign, which could lead to increase financial support of our lifesaving mission. Now it moves on to the Senate, where once again we’ll be calling on your help.

Also moving to the Senate after passing the House with our support is HB 5114, a bill which would bring basic CPR training to all middle-school (grades 6 – 8) students. This bill will help train the next generation of CPR lifesavers, and pave the way for a future effort to make CPR training a high-school graduation requirement for all Illinois students. As this bill progresses we’ll be asking for your help contacting legislators for it as well!

Finally, also with our support House Resolution 872 passed the House Human Services Committee this week, setting the stage for consideration by the full House. HR 872 lays out the value of Illinois’ Emergency Medical Service (EMS), and declares that EMS should be made an essential service in Illinois. This resolution is a welcome first step, and will be followed by more substantive legislative efforts later this spring and this fall during the legislature’s post-election special session.

We will keep all of you updated as we move forward. In the meantime, let’s celebrate these advocacy wins in Illinois!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, our victories are yours, because You’re the Cure!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Real Stories of Regular People Saving Lives

Ayo Abiona and Tay Gilbert entertained the students with their "Dance to Stay Healthy" performance.

By Nabeha Zegar March 9, 2012

Jerling Jr. High's 7th grade student class successfully completed a course in CPR techniques and were treated to an assembly to celebrate their accomplishments. Orland School District 135 School Board Member Lynne Donegan is a proponent of the course offered to junior high students district-wide over the last four years, stemming from a personal experience.

This year alone, over 800 seventh grade students in District 135 schools were trained to use CPR and AED. Donegan said she hopes that all schools, nationwide, will soon offer CPR/AED training. She was among several speakers at the assembly, including representatives from the Orland Fire Protection District, the Orland Park Police Department, American Heart Association, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Jerling students and staff.

Colleen O'Sullivan, an active marathoner and relative of Donegan, suffered a heart attack while at a health club and died. No CPR was given to resuscitate O’Sullivan before paramedics arrived, nor was a defibrillator available. Donegan believes that her life could have been saved if someone present were trained in the skills and a defibrillator was nearby.

Donegan, along with her family and friends, helped enact the Colleen O’Sullivan Law which requires all physical fitness facilities in Illinois to have an AED (Automated external defibrillator) on premises. Dr. Chiampas, of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is part of CCARES (Chicago Cardiac Arrest Resuscitation Education Service), an organization focused on increasing survival of cardiac arrest victims in Chicago. The two have teamed together with a common goal, to give others the ability and knowledge necessary to save lives.

Many students and staff members shared personal stories of life and death situations they have experienced. Physical education teacher Maureen Zopf spoke of a situation where she had to revive a man who passed out while on a treadmil at a health club.

“There are no words to describe how great it felt to see him begin to breath again,” said Zopf. “I will always remember on that day that I helped save someone’s life.”

Chiampas, who is also the physician for the Chicago Blackhawks, the Chicago Marathon and World Cup, praised the students for their efforts and stressed the importance of the skills they had recently learned.

“I hope you will never have to use it,” said Chiampas. “But the world is safer because you have this skill.”

House Bill 5114 passed through the Elementary and Secondary Education committee in Springfield on Wednesday morning, and will soon be heard by the full General Assembly. The proposed bill would require all schools in Illinois to provide CPR/AED training as part of the curriculum. According to Donegan, "the program offered would cost taxpayers nothing and will greatly empower our children with life saving skills.”