Focusing on heart disease

January came and went in a flash and now we are onto February, which of course, is American Heart Month. As part of the month-long celebration all of our member hospitals participated in the Go Red for Women campaign.

As I walk around, there is a sea of people donning red to raise awareness of heart disease in women. It’s inspiring to see teams across our system work together for a common focus impacting employees and our communities. Way to go, caregivers, representing so many roles at UMass Memorial!

Recently, I was proud to join in a photo opportunity with about 100 fellow caregivers at UMass Memorial Medical Center. We formed a huge human heart to demonstrate unity with our cardiologists in the battle against heart disease which remains the nation’s number one killer.

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The image was blown up and is captured on large banners, signed by hundreds of employees and displayed on our Medical Center campuses, on our website, in social media and in many other forums. If you weren’t able to join us for the photo you can still participate by signing your name alongside your colleagues’. You can find the banners located in the main entrance areas on our University, Memorial or Hahnemann campuses.

The banners are titled “Unite to Fight” which symbolizes our coming together as a team of colleagues and caregivers. Those words also describe what it will take to knock heart disease off of its lofty perch as the nation’s number one killer. Unity in that sense has to be a coming together of innovation and expertise – including a merging of our best doctors with the latest research and advancements.

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This, of course, is nothing new; innovation has always driven advances in medical care. But the cadence is much different now. The innovations are multiplying and accelerating – taking us from idea to implementation in record time.

Today the stakes are much higher:  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of all Americans have at least one risk factor for heart disease. Obesity is also a major risk factor and more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012, according to the CDC. We need our best and brightest to lead the charge against these challenges.

Fortunately for the people of Central Massachusetts, UMass Memorial Health Care has a world-class team of doctors, nurses and additional caregivers. We have introduced new technologies and new approaches to the way we combat heart disease. We have learned  through research and a commitment to continuous improvement, and this benefits our patients. You can read about some of the ways our doctors are battling heart disease herehere and here.

One last thing about our world-class team: I know how great they are from personal experience; a special thanks to all my friends in the heart and vascular center who took incredible care of my mom last month. She is doing great, thanks to all of you.

Thanks for all your great ideas and for taking great care of our patients and one another,

Eric