The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 20, 2013

Your View: Clarification needed regarding Heart of New Ulm funding

By Jackie Boucher, director Hearts Beat Back and vice president of education, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation; Toby Freier, president, New Ulm Medical Center

— Thank you to The Free Press for the March 10 article showcasing the promising progress of Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project. The entire New Ulm community should be very proud of its success.

Leaders from our schools, businesses, city government, nonprofits and public health have all embraced the project and shared goal to improve the health of our community, and their collaboration and commitment is truly making a difference.

Although the article mentioned that the project is a $40 million project, we would like to clarify that this number is not correct. Over the years, the number has been reported in other media sources and unfortunately, has often been repeated as a result.

As our primary funder, Allina Health has generously committed to providing $10 million for the project to focus on developing and testing innovative programs and care models to determine what works best to prevent heart disease.

In addition to Allina Health, we are fortunate to have had many other public and private entities provide financial support over the project's first five years. The project has also worked collaboratively with Brown County Public Health to maximize funding from Minnesota's Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) to help several area workplaces go smoke-free, as well as implement other health initiatives.

And finally, we're very honored to have enjoyed both financial and in-kind support from several of our local businesses and professional associations.

All of this support has enabled the project to be even more successful by reaching a broader scope, ensuring longevity, and providing most services at no cost or reduced cost to the community. By actively soliciting ongoing support from a diverse set of stakeholders, we hope to ensure the community will be well-positioned to sustain its commitment to various health initiatives.

Thanks to everyone in New Ulm for their ongoing support and willingness to take action -- not only to improve their own health, but that of our entire community.