Southern Indiana Community Health Care receives $500,000 grant to offer, expand heart health programs
Indiana Department of Health makes major financial award to Community Health Care to help Hoosier health as part of the Health Issues and Challenges program established by the Indiana General Assembly.
PAOLI, Indiana – Southern Indiana Community Health Care will receive $500,000 in new funding in 2023 from the Indiana Department of Health to extend and expand its successful Follow My Heart cardiovascular health program, according to Nancy Radcliff, CEO. The program, which was first rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic, provides patients with the opportunity to directly engage in lowering blood pressure and improving heart health.
“This is an exciting development, as the Follow My Heart program has enjoyed good success, which means for healthier hearts and lifestyles for people living in our region,” said Radcliff.
The grant funding will enable Community Health Care to significantly expand the Follow My Heart program into new facilities in Bedford and Mitchell. Beside its new service offerings in Lawrence County, Southern Indiana Community Health Care offers the cardiovascular program, plus primary care and other services, in Crawford, Orange, and Washington counties. A new community health worker will join Community Health Care to support the program in Lawrence County.
“By providing a free wireless blood pressure monitor with additional information and instruction we have had good success in working with patients diagnosed with hypertension,” explained Yolanda Yoder, M.D., medical director. “The program allows patients to take their own blood pressure readings in their home and have the data transmitted over a secure link to their provider at Community Health Care – they can personally watch their blood pressure come down over time.”
Being engaged personally promotes patient involvement in managing blood pressure levels, which includes following new eating habits and moderate exercise. The Follow My Heart program, which will now be extended through 2026, typically engages patients for a 90-day period where they actively take their blood pressure and follow up with a Community Health Care provider to help establish new healthy habits.
For those without broadband access at home, the blood pressure data is safely stored and then uploaded by a secure link when the monitor is in a broadband service area (or is brought into a Community Health Care office).
(More details, including additional information and short YouTube videos on how to safely reduce high blood pressure and improve heart health, can be found at online https://sichc.org/follow-my-heart/)
“One of the health equity goals in this program is to provide access within our rural population who are diagnosed with hypertension,” explained Dr. Yoder, reviewing how the program works. “As participants sign up for the Follow My Heart program, they are given information on how to engage with managing their blood pressure, including proactively contacting their provider when they see an unusually high reading and also receiving information about what they can do to personally address their condition.”
“This process helps us match their needs to community resources and insurance navigation options,” she continued. “By having a self-monitoring blood pressure device at home, we reduce the number of times the patient needs to travel to the office for a visit, saving the patient the cost of travel, time off work, and office visit costs.”
“Providers can later review data in their electronic chart and make a phone call to the patient to adjust medication or check in on an unusual reading,” the medical director concluded.
The $500,000 grant was part of nearly $8.5 million awarded by the Indiana Department of Health through the Health Issues and Challenges program, which was established by the Indiana General Assembly in 2021 from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“Public health is built on a foundation of prevention and accessibility, and we are grateful to be able to use the remaining funds that our legislators allocated to support programs that will help improve Hoosiers’ health and well-being,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D. FACOG. “These programs are locally delivered and reach Hoosiers where they live.”
# # #
About the Southern Indiana Community Health Care nonprofit organization – Well-known as a high-impact health care provider committed to continuity of care, the nonprofit Southern Indiana Community Health Care (CHC) organization is committed to providing high-quality, comprehensive, community-sensitive health care utilizing Christ-centered principles to medically underserved, rural communities. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), CHC serves as a “safety net” provider for vulnerable populations and focuses on increasing access to primary care services for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities. CHC offers medical care in medically underserved areas of Crawford, Lawrence, Orange, and Washington counties. Southern Indiana Community Health Care is a member of the National Health Services Corps and receives program funding from the Health Resources and Services. For more information, please visit: https://sichc.org/
About the Indiana Department of Health
The mission of the Indiana Department of Health is to promote, protect, and improve the health and safety of all Hoosiers. The department’s core values are: Health Equity—We place equity at the center of our work to ensure every Hoosier, regardless of individual characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion, has access to social and physical supports needed to promote health from birth through end of life. Communication—We provide stakeholders and the public accurate and up-to-date scientific data and provide education and resources regarding utilization of evidence-informed practices in a timely manner. Innovation—We continue to learn, research evidence-informed practices, advance ourselves, and be open to new methods, ideas, and products that help build and expand upon the services we provide. Integrity—We are honest, trustworthy, and transparent. We uphold our standards and do the right things to achieve the best public health and safety outcomes. For more information, please visit: https://www.in.gov/health/