Five hospital-led partnerships to improve community health received 2015 AHA NOVA Awards July 25 at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

The winning programs are the Mayor’s Healthy City Initiative in Baton Rouge, La.; the Bithlo Transformation Project in Orlando, Fla.; Activate Whittier in Whittier, Calif.; Community Health: Healthy Eating in Albuquerque, N.M.; and the Blood Pressure Advocate Program in Rochester, N.Y.

The Mayor's Healthy City Initiative was formed in 2008, with a mission to identify and coordinate efforts aimed at encouraging healthier eating and more active lifestyles across Baton Rouge. The partnership of more than 70 organizations, including Baton Rouge Medical Center, Ochsner Medical Center, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Woman’s Hospital, assess community health needs, identify priorities and put new programs and services into place to support better health throughout the region. The initiative focuses on addressing obesity, HIV and AIDs and mental and behavioral health issues.

The Bithlo Transformation Project, led by Orlando’s Florida Hospital,  seeks to build a healthier Bithlo, Fla., – a town of 8,000 just 30 minutes outside Orlando that has long been beset by high rates of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. More than 85 organizations work together on community revitalization efforts that have led to a medical clinic, mobile dental services and a domestic violence coordinator, among other services.

Activate Whittier was founded in 2007 by PIH Health, Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center, the YMCA of Greater Whittier, the City of Whittier and the Los Angeles County public health department. It has expanded to include more than 40 organizations, and has improved the health and wellness of the Whittier community by, among other initiatives, providing salad bars at schools and other healthy food options; replacing candy and cupcake sales at schools with healthy fundraisers; placing outdoor fitness equipment in the community; promoting “Healthy Pick” labeling at prominent corner stores; and establishing smoke-free parks.

Community Health: Healthy Eating is a partnership of Presbyterian Healthcare Services and area agricultural and farming groups that promotes local agriculture, economic development, healthy eating and education. A community supported agriculture program makes healthy food affordable for low-income families in the South Valley area of Albuquerque.

The Blood Pressure Advocate Program was created three years ago by the University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center and Rochester (N.Y.) Regional Health System. It helps adults diagnosed with high blood pressure get their blood pressure under control by changing their behavior and lifestyle. “Community Health Advocates” help patients improve their blood pressure through counseling on risk factors for hypertension, teaching them self-management techniques, making sure they are taking their medications and helping them set goals to improve nutrition.

The AHA created the NOVA awards in 1993 to pay tribute to hospitals and health systems that go beyond caring for the ill and injured to help people live healthier, more productive lives.

“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.” 

NOVA Award Winners