Press Release

Hospitals Honored for Improving Community Health

WASHINGTON (July 14, 2015) The American Hospital Association (AHA) today announced that it will honor five programs for their hospital-led collaborative efforts that improve community health, awarding them the AHA NOVA Award. The awards will be given July 25 at a ceremony during the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco. The winning programs are Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative (Healthy BR) in Baton Rouge, La.; Bithlo Transformation Effort in Orlando, Fla.; Activate Whittier in Whittier, Calif.; Community Health: Healthy Eating in Albuquerque, N.M.; and Blood Pressure Advocate Program in Rochester, N.Y.

“The AHA NOVA award recognizes hospitals and collaborative efforts that show how caring and compassion can improve health and wellness,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “The hospitals leading these programs are truly inspirational examples of how the power of collaboration can make our communities healthier, safer and better places to live.” 

Established in 1993, the AHA NOVA Award recognizes hospitals and health systems for their collaborative efforts toward improving community health. The 2015 winning programs and hospital partners are:


Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative (Healthy BR)

Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Woman’s Hospital – Baton Rouge, La. 

The Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative, also known as Healthy BR, coordinates community-wide, collaborative efforts to improve health citywide. The initiative includes more than 70 partner organizations from local government, community organizations, faith-based groups, schools, businesses and health care providers, including the area’s four acute care hospitals. A community needs assessment conducted jointly by the initiative’s partner organizations highlighted the need to focus on obesity, HIV and AIDS, mental and behavioral health and emergency department overuse. Specific efforts have included farmers markets and a healthy corner store initiative; cooking classes; school-based and community education; HIV testing, education and public policy advances; patient navigation programs and transportation programs.


Bithlo Transformation Effort

Florida Hospital – Orlando, Fla.

Florida Hospital is the lead partner of the multi-pronged Bithlo Transformation Project. Bithlo is an impoverished community about 20 miles east of downtown Orlando. When Florida Hospital joined United Global Outreach and other partners in their effort to transform Bithlo in 2010, residents lived without clean water, safe housing and adequate public transportation. Residents in the community suffer from unemployment, illiteracy and homelessness. Florida Hospital designated Bithlo as its first local health engagement project, and has a holistic transformation focus across nine areas, including health care, housing, education, environmental issues, transportation, basic services, creating a sense of community and developing economic opportunities. More than 65 organizations have worked together on efforts such as “Transformation Village,” and Bithlo now has a medical clinic, mobile dental services and a domestic violence coordinator, among other vital services. Florida Hospital and their partners are continuing their work to transform Bithlo.


Activate Whittier

PIH Health, Whittier, Calif. and Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center – Whittier, Calif.

Spurred by high rates of diabetes and obesity revealed in their 2007 community needs assessments, Activate Whittier was founded by PIH Health, Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center, YMCA of Greater Whittier, the City of Whittier and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Over the past six years, the approximately 40 organizations that make up the community collaborative have improved the health and wellness of the community. Specific efforts include smoke-free parks; “Healthy Pick” labeling at corner stores, school salad bars and fundraisers focused on healthy activities instead of unhealthy food sales; and the five-mile Whittier Greenway Trail. The collaborative also led to training community health workers, community advocate teams and a nutrition-and-physical activity-based high school youth club.


Community Health: Healthy Eating

Presbyterian Healthcare Services – Albuquerque, N.M.

Community Health: Healthy Eating was established to address the issue of uncertain access to healthy, affordable produce for New Mexico residents. The initiative helps low-income households by addressing cost and availability of nutritious food, integrating nutrition as a tool for medical providers in prevention and treatment of chronic disease and strengthening the local food system. Partners include Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Agri-Cultura Network’s La Cosecha program, the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association, the Santa Fe Community Foundation MoGro program and Farm to Table. Strategies include subsidized community supported agricultural programs, school and community gardens, mobile farmers markets, “prescribing” fruits and vegetables with farmers market payment coupons, culturally appropriate cooking education, hospital campus markets and supplemental nutrition assistance program double value coupons at farmers markets.


Blood Pressure Advocate Program

University of Rochester Medical Center and Rochester Regional Health System – Rochester, N.Y.


Launched in 2012, the Blood Pressure Advocate Program works to improve blood pressure control in neighborhood health center patients by assisting clinical staff in addressing the social and behavioral determinants of health. Support is provided by culturally-sensitive, trained community health advocates (CHA) embedded in one suburban and three urban primary care centers that serve racial and ethnic groups at increased risk of developing high blood pressure as well as other vulnerable groups, such as low-income residents and refugees. CHAs are integrated into the clinical site and support patients with resources, strategies and navigation tools for making lifestyle changes, such as improving diet, increasing exercise, losing weight, reducing stress and smoking cessation.



About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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