Published on March 09, 2012

Genesis Flu-Free QC Earns Kudos From IA Governor

Vaccinations help to make state healthier

The third-graders at Davenport’s Eisenhower School raised their hands high when asked if they had received their flu shot.

After all, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad was watching. The sting of last fall’s shot was about to reap its reward.

Not only were they proud to be flu-free, but they had contributed to the Governor’s effort to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds visited Genesis Medical Center, Davenport last Friday to recognize the Genesis Flu-Free Quad Cities initiative. In its fifth year, the program gave nearly 9,500 free flu shots in 80 elementary schools last fall. While there, the state leaders sat down to a healthy breakfast with the third-graders from teacher Diane Stensrud’s class.

“We want to thank Genesis for its leadership in health, and we appreciate you students at Eisenhower for being so committed to your own personal health and well-being,” Gov. Branstad said. “We think it’s great you’re starting early. Eat nutritious food, get an adequate amount of exercise and a good night’s sleep, as well as vaccinations to protect yourself against diseases.”

Reynolds added, “Turn that TV off, grab the apple and go outside and play.”

Gov. Branstad gave an update on the Healthiest State Initiative, a privatelyled, publicly endorsed effort that is engaging Iowa citizens to improve their overall health. A centerpiece of the effort is the Blue Zones Project, a collaboration between Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Healthways.

The cities of Davenport, Clinton and Muscatine are among 11 finalists to becoming a Blue Zones demonstration site. The project is based on Blue Zones principles by author Dan Buettner that employ evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better lives.

Iowa now ranks as the 16th healthiest state in the nation -- up from its earlier ranking as the 19th, according to the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index.

“We’ve gone from 19th to 16th, but we want to be No. 1 in five years,” Gov. Branstad said. “I congratulate Davenport for being one of the communities competing to be a Blue Zone. The only way we’re going to solve the health crisis in America is to get everyone to take ownership in their own health first.”

Genesis also is playing a role in helping Iowa become the healthiest state in the nation, said Doug Cropper, President and CEO of Genesis Health System. “There are a number of things health systems can do in collaboration with other key partners to be able to accomplish this,” he said.

“I know the Governor shares the Genesis belief that routine, appropriate vaccinations are a key part of what’s going to keep our state healthy and moving forward,” added Ken Croken, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Business Development.

Flu-Free Quad Cities is a massive community effort and requires fundraising each year by the Genesis Health Services Foundation.

Michele Cullen, R.N., Community Health Manager for Genesis VNA, has led the Flu-Free Quad Cities initiative since it began as a pilot program in 2007.

“It’s wonderful that the Governor has come to recognize the program and the good that it does,” Cullen said. “Eisenhower School has always been very supportive of our Flu-Free initiative, and it’s great the kids could come and meet the Governor.”

In total, Genesis vaccinated nearly 35,000 people for seasonal influenza since last fall.

This included: 2,087 vaccinations at public flu clinics; 5,401 vaccinations provided by Genesis Occupational Health to Quad Cities employers and their employees; 10,645 patients at Genesis Health Group offices; and, more than1,200 hospital inpatients.

That’s in addition to the nearly 9,500 elementary school children through Flu- Free QC.

“This year’s flu season has been very mild up until a couple of weeks ago,” Cullen said. “It was sporadic, and now we’ve gone to low flu activity. We’re glad it hasn’t been a big flu season. We hope our Genesis Flu-Free program has had some impact on that.”

Student Reid Gorham, 9, enjoyed meeting the Governor, and has grown accustomed to the annual shot. “The nurses do the shot very nicely. You kind of forget it hurts,” he said.

Reid and his Eisenhower classmates have been studying Iowa and came prepared with questions for the state leaders.

They wowed everyone by reciting the Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the Constitution, the statement of rights of the Declaration of Independence and the Greek alphabet. They also invited the Governor to a cowboy overnight and rodeo at the school.

“I have plans to go out to dinner with my wife tonight,” the Governor answered. “I never miss an opportunity to go out with her.”

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