Press Release

March 29, 2006

Governor’s PATH Award presented to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center for educating women about heart healthy habits

 Health Center going above and beyond in implementing IDPH’s health lifestyle program

MATTOON, Ill – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center as the latest recipient of the People Are Today's Heroes (PATH) Award for its exemplary implementation of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Heart Smart for Women, a program that has educated hundreds of women about cardiovascular disease, nutrition and exercise.

“Heart disease, which causes heart attacks, is the leading cause of death for American women,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “The Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center is part of today’s heroes for its efforts to raise awareness about heart disease in women, and teaching women how to reduce their cardiovascular risk through the Heart Smart for Women program.”

The Governor’s PATH Award recognizes groups or individuals who, through their hard work and commitment, have improved the lives of those in their community and have helped Illinois move forward in the areas of health care, public safety, education and economic development.

Dr. Eric Whitaker, the state’s public health director, presented the PATH Award to the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center on behalf of Gov. Blagojevich.

Heart Smart for Women (HSFW) is a 12-week community-based education program that allows 15-20 participants to meet about an hour a week with a trained facilitator who helps these women reduce cardiovascular risk, promote the benefits of exercise and nutrition, and assist in developing a healthier lifestyle. In FY06, the IDPH Office of Women’s Health is funding 29 HSFW grantees at a total of $638,000. Participants represent a range of ethnic and minority groups, and the curriculum is offered in both English and Spanish. Last year, more than 2,400 women participated in the HSFW program with more than 60 percent reporting a behavioral change at the end of the series while improving their nutrition and/or level of physical activity.

The Heart Smart for Women program educates women about cardiovascular risks and what preventative steps they can take,” said Dr. Whitaker. “Heart disease is the number one killer of women and heart disease will strike one out of every three women. It is essential that we take this chance to educate all women and give them a leg-up on fighting this disease.”

The Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center goes above and beyond in promoting the Heart Smart for Women program in the area, offering sites and providing extra materials for the program especially program facilitator Lori Richardson. Classes have been held in Coles, Edgar, Jasper, Moultrie and Cumberland counties including Charleston, Mattoon, Toledo, Paris and Newton.

Heart Smart For Women is a wonderful program. Along with the weekly curriculum, I find that adding additional information, such as personalized food pyramid guides for each participant, is why many women like the program,” said Lori Richardson, project director. “It’s the extra step of going over food labels and discussing portion size that make this program more successful.”

Ages of the participants range from 18 to 65 years and the total number of women anticipated to complete the program by the end of FY06 is 368.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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