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Heart Association Is Jump-Starting Wellness Among Employees

The American Heart Association is offering a free supplemental benefit-type service to employers for which many wellness companies charge sizable fees.

Fitness programs help companies reduce health care costs by 20 percent to 55 percent, according to the American Heart Association. That’s partly why the AHA thinks employers should jump to be part of Start! , a movement in offices around San Diego and across the country focused on diminishing obstacles that discourage employees from exercising. The focus is on walking because it has “the lowest dropout rate of any type of exercise,” according to the AHA.

MyStart! is an online nutrition tracker to be found at www.americanheart.org/start. Employers will find manuals and promotional posters for the Start! program online, along with other materials.

The program is free because of sponsorship from companies such as pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, along with Subway and Healthy Choice. Participants can call (800) AHA-USA1 to receive free recorded phone calls from celebrities encouraging them to start walking more and eating better.

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Arguably more important than companies’ bottom lines is the fact that preventable illnesses make up 70 percent of health care costs in the United States, according to AHA.

“We share the concern felt across the country,” said Dr. Robert Stein, president of the San Diego office of the American Heart Association.

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Grossmont Hires Firm:

The Grossmont Healthcare District, which is the public agency that serves as landlord to the 450-bed Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, has selected an investment firm to advise officials on the future issuance of the $247 million bond issue voters there approved in June.

The firm is G.L. Hicks, which has more than 25 years of experience in municipal finance, the district said. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Hicks will work alongside Grossmont’s financial consultants, including New York-based Goldman Sachs and San Francisco-based law firm Sidley Austin LLP. An additional layer of accountability will ideally be provided by the district’s 11-member Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, which began meeting in November.

Bond proceeds will finance 90 new patient beds, improvements to emergency services, renovation for the 50-year-old hospital’s electrical, plumbing systems, as well as seismic upgrades.

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Moores Staff Cooks Up Book:

Nutrition experts from the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center have created a cookbook and nutrition guide to help people prevent and treat cancer.

Most of the information for the guide was developed for a federally funded, ongoing study involving 3,000 women in four states that is reviewing how a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits and fiber and low in fat may prevent or reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

The authors of the 122-page “Food for Thought: Healing Foods to Savor” are members of the center’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program. While Vicki Newman is an associate clinical professor of family and preventive medicine at the UCSD School of Medicine, the other authors include Susan Faerber, project director for the federal study, and Sheila Kealey, who holds a master’s degree in public health.

All proceeds from the sale of the book, priced at $20, support the Cancer Prevention and Control Program. It can be purchased at the UCSD Thornton Hospital gift shop, the UCSD Bookstore or from www.healthyeating.ucsd.edu.

“(Cancer) will affect every two or three people at some point in their lifetime,” Newman said. “Our research is contributing to the understanding of how diet can help prevent and control diseases like cancer. We wanted to share this information and provide simple ways for people to enjoy a variety of great foods often.”

The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study began in 1995 and will conclude this year.

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Health Center Gets Boost:

La Maestra Community Health Centers has received $10,000 from the Hervey Family Fund to help with a health center in City Heights that will double the clinic’s space.

The nonprofit provides health care for nearly 100,000 of San Diego’s approximately 600,000 uninsured residents each year. The new facility will be a 32,000-square-foot, three-story community health clinic one block from an existing health center at 4185 Fairmount Ave. La Maestra said it will be the first certified “green” health center in the nation, constructed under rules of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System. La Maestra will break ground on the center in May and expects to open in December. The expansion, officials at the center have said, will help the staff of 147 serve 25,000 new patients.

Currently, the clinic is situated in 13 separate refurbished residential units totaling about 15,000 square feet, spread over a city block. La Maestra also has El Cajon locations.

The current City Heights facility, in one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, has more than 55,000 patient visits per year.

La Maestra offers primary medical care, dental care, pharmacy, nutritional education and screening programs, as well as a food pantry, housing assistance and job training and placement.

The Hervey Family Fund was established by the Jean Jessop Hervey Estate. Jean Jessop Hervey’s husband, James Edgar Hervey, was a prominent trial attorney who practiced civil litigation in San Diego for more than 40 years, according to the San Diego Foundation, which administers the estate’s gifts.


Contact Katie Weeks with health care news at

kweeks@sdbj.com

, or call her at (858) 277-6359.

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