Elections are fast approaching for officers of Mended Hearts for the 2017-2019 term.
If you didn’t like the results of this year’s presidential election, don’t lose hope. There’s another election you can weigh in on: the election for Mended Hearts officers. Though many candidates are running unopposed, we’ve asked them to share their vision for Mended Hearts over the next five years in terms of where and how to best reach the heart patient and caregiver community. Here’s what they said.
My vision for Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts is still growth. We have made great strides in the past year, but I think we have miles to go in order to see significant growth in our membership.
I want to stabilize our chapters and focus on outreach to all heart patients. With current technology providing innovative treatments, visiting patients at the bedside is becoming more of a challenge than ever before. I hope to see stronger chapters, more accredited visitors and support for every heart patient who needs us.
(Currently National Executive Vice President, National Chapter Development Committee Co-chair, National Patient Advocacy Committee)
My vision for Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts is growth and national recognition of MH and MLH as the first-choice support and resource organizations for the heart patient community.
Mended Hearts is the oldest and largest peer-to-peer support group for cardiovascular patients in our nation, yet thousands of patients and caregivers across this country do not know about us. We can help those patients and caregivers as they face the challenges of diagnosis, treatment, recovery and managing daily cardiovascular health challenges when they know we are here.
We must increase public awareness of MH and what we offer in order to reach those patients, and also to attract new members and sponsors who support our mission. We must be innovative in the when, where and how we attract, serve and benefit our current and future members while providing creative ways to be involved and easy access to our many resources.
(Currently Chapter President, Chapter 92, of Fresno, California)
If a chapter doesn’t have a close relationship with their hospital(s), we need to strive to make sure that hospital employees know us and know what we do. I think a lot of hospitals think that all we do is visit. We need to let them know about our support meetings and speakers, etc. I realize that with the turnover in many hospitals, this is a continuing process.
I am also a fan of getting involved in the cardiac rehabs in your area. This may produce more new members than we get from visiting! If your rehab will let you, present Mended Hearts to every “new batch” of rehab patients (preferably) in a meeting setting. Most rehabs have classes for all of their “newbies.” Maybe your chapter can be one of those classes.
(Currently National Vice President)
Our traditional model of bedside patient visits has served us well in the past. As treatment options and hospital stays have changed dramatically, solely relying on hospital relationships to reach patients is, by itself, no longer effective. Other outreach methods involving social media, patient databases and other technology advances need to be developed to bring us in contact with heart patients and caregivers. Creative options of connecting and staying connected with heart patients is a top priority for me.
As hospitals are embracing the concept of “community health,” we are the perfect organization to offer partnering programs to help these hospitals reduce readmissions and to provide preventative heart health information to the communities they serve. Mended Hearts will become the “go to” organization for patient heart health.
Gordon “Gus” Littlefield
(Currently Chapter President)
I would like to see us continue to make more hospitals and health care providers aware of Mended Hearts, to show that MH is an asset in the recovery and education of heart patients — as well
as continue to expand Mended Little Hearts and improve and increase fundraising for them.
G. Bruce Norris
(Currently Central Assistant Regional Director)
I would like to see more Mended Hearts chapters in the central region, especially in Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. We need to develop chapters in smaller towns and cities to reach more heart patients in areas that have hospitals with rehab programs, but do not perform heart procedures. I also feel that having regional conferences in those years when national officers are not installed is a good idea.
(Currently Chapter President and Midwest Assistant Region Director)
Over the past several years, the number of Mended Hearts chapters has decreased while Mended Little Hearts has grown. The one thing I have noticed in the five conventions I have attended is the enthusiasm and positive attitude the MLH members have. As a visitor, I am sure we have all noticed how much younger the patients we visit are. These patients are the future of Mended Hearts.
(Currently Mid-Atlantic Assistant Regional Director)
I believe the growth of Mended Hearts lies in the development of a better relationship with the African-American and Hispanic populations of the country. As I visit our local hospital, I see that at least 50% of the patients visited are minorities, but few, if any, respond positively to the opportunity to attend a chapter meeting. It is important that we do a better job in attracting membership from these communities.
My goals have remained the same. We need more stability on the executive board, and we need to communicate with chapters and members. Both are improving. Heartbeat magazine is currently the only communication with members who don’t attend meetings or whose chapter doesn’t have a newsletter. We need to increase membership, increase our visits to patients, and we need to be more visible in the caregiver community.
I plan to work to increase membership in Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts through implementing and following a strategic plan, strengthening current chapters, continuing to increase revenue
and sponsors, and through continued improvement of our visiting program.
I hope to increase the number of chapters and members in the southwest region. By reducing to 10 the number needed to form a chapter, it makes it easier to contact hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. Over the next five years, we should be able to increase our sponsors for our national objectives.
(Currently Assistant Region Director, Southern Region, Chapter 161 President)
My vision for Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts is to properly train regional directors and assistant regional directors to assist chapters in growing their memberships; to help visitors serve their patients; and to strengthen marketing strategies for the organization. Training should be a top priority.
I plan to develop and organize Mended Hearts into a widely recognized non-profit organization that has a large outreach to a variety of hospitals and Mended Little Hearts groups so that MH is no longer the best kept secret, but recognized as a world-class peer-to-peer patient support group using hospitals, groups, communities and chapters to accomplish the vision.
In early December, the Mended Hearts national team will distribute ballots electronically to chapter presidents and group leaders, as well as members at large. Chapters will be allowed to vote in January and February 2017, with the results to be announced in the spring. Happy voting!