Heart Resource Center reaches impressive milestone
On a morning in mid-July, at the Boiling Springs Senior Center, the Joe R. Utley Heart Resource Center reached an impressive milestone: 150,000 connections were made in the community.
These connections, or “touchpoints” have taken place at health fairs, schools, web-based events and the center’s headquarters inside the Spartanburg Regional Heart Center. Outreach has focused on healthy lifestyles and the prevention of heart disease.
At the Boiling Springs Senior Center, participants took part in “Heart Bingo.” The game centered around information about nutrition and heart health. Dawn Maddux, a patient educator and community outreach specialist with the Heart Resource Center, kept things moving quickly, engaging the group in conversation and sprinkling in ideas for easy and affordable healthy recipes.
“I think it’s good to provide hands-on activities – I don’t want people to feel like we’re just lecturing them,” Maddux said.
Named in honor of the late Joe R. Utley, a renowned cardiologist who practiced at Spartanburg Regional, the Heart Resource Center opened in 2010 with support from donors to the Spartanburg Regional Foundation. It has kept records on the number of people reached at educational programs, screenings and other events.
“We don’t want to get too caught up in the data, but it’s important to keep up with. And we’ve realized that we’ve reached a lot of people,” said center director Kerri Stewart.
During much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Heart Resource Center team was unable to meet with groups in person. Stewart and Maddux enjoyed leading online cooking classes. Response has been positive, and they are working to offer more virtual cooking and meal-planning events.
Diet and nutrition have an impact on so many areas of health, so it’s a natural focus area for the Heart Resource Center, Stewart said.
“The Heart Resource Center has been hard at work expanding opportunities for providers, patients and the community in the field of ‘culinary medicine’ – a fusion of teaching cooking skills with the understanding of how food can help prevent or better manage disease,” Stewart said.
Recently, Stewart and Maddox were accepted into the international Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which is a network of thought-leading organizations using teaching kitchen facilities as catalysts of enhanced personal and public health across medical, community, school and corporate settings.
Members of the collaborative include Emory and Stanford universities. So far, Spartanburg Regional is the only representative from South Carolina.
Stewart is excited about the potential for both online and in-person cooking classes. She added that she and Maddux are also glad to be back out in the community to give presentations, teach CPR classes, lead networking and support groups, and build partnerships “to help us reach the next 150,000 people.”
You can support the work of the Joe R. Utley Heart Resource Center by making a donation at https://www.regionalfoundation.com/ways-give/heart-disease.