Medica Healthy Savings participants receive farmers markets discounts

Members in Medica Healthy Savings program now receive up to $3 off a tray of produce at participating farmers markets this summer. The discount runs through October.Healthy-Savings-CPG-card-feature
With more than 2,000 pounds of produce purchased by members at farmers markets last year, the Medica Healthy Savings program is at 30 markets in 2015. Markets from Alexandria to Wabasha participate, along with many in the Twin Cities area.
“Going to a farmers market is a great family experience….We love the new customers and are pleased to help connect members with our local farmers,” said Audrey Lord, manager of the Annex Farmers Market in Downtown Minneapolis.
Each week, Medica members receive announcements on dates when participating Farmers Markets are offering the promotion. Members simply present their Healthy Savings card at the information booth to receive their $3 voucher that can be used toward any fresh produce purchase at the market. For more details and a full list of participating markets, members can log into their Healthy Savings account here.

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Avoid the emergency department this Independence Day

Fireworks are a fun way to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, but they are also dangerous explosives that if handled improperly can result in life-changing injuries.

Be safe: watch the experts.

Be safe: watch the experts.

Last year, our colleagues at Region Hospital’s Burn Center in St. Paul admitted five patients with injuries sustained from fireworks. In all, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division reported 71 firework-related injuries last year, with more than 40 percent of those happening to children under age 20. Fireworks injury statistics show:

  • Approximately 82 percent of firework-related injuries occur to the hands, eyes, head and face.
  • Children between the ages 10 and 19 have the highest firework injury rate.
  • The injury rate is nearly three times higher for males compared to the females.

Be safe and handle fireworks with caution, keeping in mind these tips from HealthPartners:

  • Adults only. Nearly half of firework injuries happen to children under age 19. Even sparklers are dangerous! Ranging between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, sparklers are hot enough to melt gold and can cause severe burns and permanent scarring.
  • Obey your local city and state laws. If fireworks are illegal where you live, don’t buy or use them. Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in six firework-related deaths reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission in 2012.
  • Leave it to the professionals. The safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to leave it to professionals who are trained on handling them. Scope out where the best local fireworks shows are, sit back and enjoy the show. These lists from Explore Minnesota and MPR offer some suggestions for fireworks viewing.

While the noise from neighbors celebrating may be annoying, be sure to use 911 only in emergency situations. Leave the 911 lines open for true emergencies. In Minneapolis alone, the police department receives 300 to 400 calls every hour on a typical the 4th of July for fireworks noise complaints. The city recently reminded residents to use 911 only in case of urgent concerns involving fire or a direct threat to an individual’s safety.

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Summer is here, and so is Blue Cross funding for healthy activities across the state


Nice Ride is supported by the Blue Cross Center for Prevention.

Whether it’s for recreation or transportation, Minnesota summers inspire many to be more physically active. Unfortunately, some Minnesota communities lack the amenities and infrastructure to support and encourage healthy activities.
In an effort to make it easier to walk, bike and take part in other physical activities, the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is funding 10 demonstration projects. These temporary, low-cost projects will help show how small changes in a community’s surroundings make it easier for people to be physically active. And, by giving people opportunities to experience their neighborhoods in a new way, these projects also aim to build support and momentum for permanent changes within communities.
The project, Active Places, is taking place throughout the state between June and October. The 10 organizations that have been awarded financial and technical assistance from the Center for Prevention include:

  • Ventura Village Neighborhood will provide Somali elders and youth places to play bocce ball, a sport that has cultural significance, encourages physical activity and creates intergenerational connections.
  • Milaca Fine Arts Council will create a temporary park where events and activities will be held in conjunction with the local farmers market. The park will serve as a place to connect with other community members while also encouraging residents to utilize established walking routes.
  • Asian Economic Development Association will transform an underutilized space into a green and welcoming public plaza. Temporary bike lanes and walkways will also be incorporated to encourage physical activity within the neighborhood.
  • Corcoran Neighborhood Organization will encourage community members to reimagine a public space by creating a temporary public plaza, adjacent to the local light rail transit station. A farmers market, fitness classes and other programming will inspire physical activity and community connections.
  • Lake Street Council will transform Minneapolis’ 29th Street into a community gathering space and pedestrian connection between the neighborhood, the Midtown greenway and the Lake Street transit and business corridor.
  • Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation will implement a week-long demonstration at elementary and high schools in New Ulm. The project aims to show how improvements to the school’s arrival and departure areas can be used to encourage walking and biking to and from school.
  • The City of Hopkins will engage community members in testing designs for The Artery, a connection between Hopkins’ planned light rail transit station and its historic downtown. Elements of the temporary installation include a farmers market and cycle track, along with bikes that will be available to test out the planned “living street.”
  • Healthy Duluth will use temporary “parklets” to demonstrate how outdoor public spaces can create economic benefits while also promoting active lifestyles.
  • Friendly Streets Initiative will collaborate with local artists to transform eight bridges over I-94, making them more safe and attractive for walkers and bikers.
  • City of Cloquet will introduce temporary bike lanes and incorporate bump-outs in two separate areas of downtown Cloquet. The goal is for these temporary changes to inspire more permanent infrastructure improvements within the community.

Active Places demonstration projects were selected through a competitive process. Preference was given to organizations that expressed a commitment to community engagement and that focused on creating opportunities for those who commonly face barriers to physical activity.

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Partner with health plans to improve community health

Public health staff throughout the state are learning about opportunities to collaborate with health plans. This work is part of a state-wide effort to improve how health plans, the state’s department of health, local public health can better work together to improve the health of all Minnesotans.

Recently the Council of Health Plans conducted a webinar to help public health staff:

  • Identify health plan resources that complement Community Health Improvement Program (CHIP) efforts and public health accreditation activities
  • Discuss existing and future opportunities for regional and local partnerships that support implementation of county CHIPs
  • Review the highlights of the Minnesota Health Plan Collaboration Plan, the resource for public health/health plan collaboration. It also includes a list of health plan representatives on more than 100 public-health focused committees and organizations.

Download the webinar, Implementing Community Health Improvement Plans: Ways to Partner with Health Plans. It is presented by:

Nancy Hoyt Taff, HealthPartners

Nancy Hoyt Taff, HealthPartners

Ashlyn Christianson, BlueCross BlueShield BluePlus of Minnesota

Janny Brust, MPH,  director of community health and medical policy, is co-chair of the Center for Community Health.

Janny Brust, Minnesota Council of Health Plans

Carol Berg, UCare

Carol Berg, UCare

Ken Bence, Medica

 Becky Sechrist, MDH
Health Partnerships Division




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Foundations application deadlines May 29, June 1

Application deadlines are approaching for the Medica Foundation and UCare Foundation.

Medica’s deadline is May 29 for Early Childhood Health and Organizational Core Mission Support. Early childhood areas of focus include improved access to pre-natal and post-natal care, parenting, prevention (including Child and Teen Checkups), dental services and social and emotional health. Under core mission guidelines, organizations may request support for health-related programming that is core to the organization’s nonprofit mission. See details at Medica Foundation.

UCare Foundation is accepting applications for Research Grants. The deadline is June 1. These grants support research in the areas of preventive health care, quality initiatives for chronic disease management, promoting health equity and of reducing health disparities for people living with a physical or developmental disability. Found out more at UCare Foundation.

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Prevent heart attack and stroke

What’s one way to prevent your first heart attack or stroke? Ask your doctor about aspirin.

Council partners MN Community Measurement and Institute for Clinical System Improvement are working with the Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP) to launch “Ask About Aspirin,” a ground-breaking initiative designed to lower the risk of a first heart attack or stroke.

Using daily low dose aspirin has been proven to lower rates of a first heart attack or stroke. Yet, fewer than one in four people at risk in Minnesota actually take a low dose aspirin each day. Later this month you will see a statewide media campaign, combined with work within clinics to ensure everyone who should take a daily aspirin, does.

“Ask About Aspirin” was designed by the Lillehei Heart Institute at the University of Minnesota, in partnership with the School of Public Health, the Minnesota Department of Health (MHD) and a Community Advisory Board, including the American Heart Association, the Minnesota Medical Association, the American College of Cardiology, the Minnesota Academy of Family Physicians, MNCM and ICSI. The Council’s Janny Brust, directory of community health and medical policy, is vice chair of the state’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Steering Committee with MDH.



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