Allina Health, George Family Foundation form Healthy Communities Partnership

When she learned she had very high cholesterol at a health screening in Baldwin, Wis., the young mother started participating in community health challenges and joined a weight management program.

Her weight-loss success inspired her friends and family to make changes, too. “I know I wouldn’t have changed anything if I hadn’t done the screening,” she said.

She is among nearly two thousand people who have been affected by the Healthy Communities Partnership since it began in January 2012.

Sponsored by Allina Health and the George Family Foundation, the Healthy Communities Partnership is a three-year, $6.5 million program to experiment with ways to improve health scores in 13 communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

“Our country is currently spending $2.5 trillion on healthcare, 70 percent of which is spent on lifestyle related disease.  We are thrilled to be moving upstream and affecting the very behaviors that cause these diseases, such as stress, nutrition, physical activity and mental health,” said Courtney Baechler, MD, preventive cardiologist and vice president of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, part of Allina Health.

Communities customize the program to fit their specific needs and resources, but some components are consistent, including:

• Baseline screenings to measure individual and community “health scores”

• An online tool called The Family Health Manager to store and analyze data.

• An inventory of local resources to identify gaps in local wellness programming, such as smoking cessation classes

• A wellness care guide to work with participants on health improvement plans that combine medical and non-medical approaches

• Annual re-screenings

The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, part of Allina Health, manages the Healthy Communities Partnership and helps communities develop new wellness programs.

The participating institutions and communities are: Riverwood Healthcare Center, Aitkin; Baldwin Area Medical Center, Baldwin, Wis.; Buffalo Hospital, Buffalo; Cambridge Medical Center, Cambridge; Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Crosby; District One Hospital, Faribault; Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital, Grand Rapids; Regina Medical Center, Hastings; Hutchinson Area Health Center, Hutchinson; FirstLight Health System, Mora; River Falls Area Hospital, River Falls, Wis.; Ridgeview Medical Center, Waconia; and Rice Memorial Hospital, Willmar.

George Family Foundation

The George Family Foundation is a private grant-making organization with an emphasis on leveraged, strategic funding. The Foundation funds innovative ideas in integrative health, education, leadership development, social justice and spirituality in everyday life.

Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

Part of Allina Health, the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing was founded at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in 2003 to offer a holistic approach to health care that focuses on the mind, body and spirit. As the largest integrative health program embedded in a health system in the country, the Penny George Institute is a national leader in research and in setting standards for developing and disseminating integrative care practices. Its research is showing that integrative care enhances quality, ensures safety and reduces costs.

Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services that provide hospice care, oxygen and home medical equipment, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at