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Young 'heartistsí go red for recovering heart patients

Monday March 11, 2013
From left, Karen Thoms, RN, assistant nurse manager, 2DSU; Sheila Davies, RN, cardiothoracic surgery; Riley Avenue Elementary School art teacher Melissa Haupt, and assistant principal Jean Grim; and 2DSU nurse manager Patricia Magalee, RN, pose with art projects created by first-grade
From left, Karen Thoms, RN, assistant nurse manager, 2DSU; Sheila Davies, RN, cardiothoracic surgery; Riley Avenue Elementary School art teacher Melissa Haupt, and assistant principal Jean Grim; and 2DSU nurse manager Patricia Magalee, RN, pose with art projects created by first-grade "heartists" from the Calverton, N.Y., school.
(Photo by Tracey Boyd, Nurse.com)
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Photo by Tracey Boyd During the health fair, participants were invited to spin the wheel and answer questions regarding heart health.
MANHASSET, N.Y. — This yearís Go Red for Women campaign at North Shore-LIJ Health System took place Feb. 1 at North Shore University Hospital. In addition to a dance performance by the Hofstra University Dance Team, a testimonial from a cardiac patient and free health screenings for attendees, the program included a special exhibit of "heart" artwork created by first-graders at a Long Island elementary school.

The "Heartist Project" was made possible through the work of nurse practitioner Sheila Davies, RN, MSN, and nurses on 2DSU, a cardiac recovery unit. Davies visits Riley Avenue Elementary School in Calverton, N.Y., yearly to educate children on heart health. She brought the idea to Riley Avenue art teacher Melissa Haupt and assistant principal Jean Grim, and the project took shape.

The children were asked to create bright, cheery pictures of hearts that would be shared with recovering patients.

"We wanted to brighten up the patient recovery unit for patients after theyíd had open heart surgery," Davies said.

In addition, the children were taught about the heart, how it works, and what keeps it healthy. "The term 'heartistí is a combination of 'heartí and 'artist,í" Davies said. "It refers to the children who have learned about heart disease and heart health."

The exhibit was officially unveiled at the Go Red for Women event and included a video presentation of the children at work. A local company donated frames for the pictures, which will be on display along the walls of 2DSU.

Free wellness screenings and massage therapy sessions were available to attendees. Table exhibits provided literature on how to manage stress, and fitness information also was available. Participants also could test their knowledge by spinning a wheel that contained questions regarding heart health.

Educating the community and staff about heart health — even those as young as the Riley first-graders — is a vital part of NSLIJís culture and a major piece of the Go Red initiative, said Sarah M. Siemers, RN, ANP-BC, coordinator of outpatient and family education for cardiac services. The health system offers a smoking cessation program, a comprehensive metabolic weight loss program and Reiki treatments, among others.

"We have a very strong support system here that allows us to promote [healthy programs] to the community and our staff," Siemers said. "We encourage our people to take more control of their heart health ... to know their numbers. They in turn receive incentives off their health insurance."

The American Heart Associationís Go Red for Women initiative was created in 2004 to raise awareness of heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women. North Shore-LIJ has participated in the event every year since its inception.

Stacey Rosen, MD, vice president, Katz Institute for Womenís Health, expressed the health systemís expectations for the dayís events in her address to attendees.

"Take the information you get today and share it," she said.

Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.

SEE PHOTOS from Go Red events at www.Nurse.com/Gallery/Go-Red.


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