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2008 'Champions of Health' Award Winners Announced

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett wins top honor

TULSA, Okla., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mick Cornett, mayor of Oklahoma City, has been named Public Service Health Champion and recipient of the 2008 Rodney L. Huey, M.D., Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health award, the highest honor of the Champions of Health awards. This fifth-annual awards program recognizes outstanding organizations and individuals dedicated to improving the health of Oklahomans.

On Dec. 31, 2007, Cornett announced the launch of the "This City is Going on a Diet" campaign, with the goal of losing one million pounds as a community in an effort to create a healthier city. Cornett has led by example, losing 42 pounds since April 2007.

An interactive Web site,, including helpful resources and links, tools, recipes and health-related events was launched, allowing participants to confidentially track their weight loss progress and calculate their body mass index (BMI). More than 20,000 residents have gone online and signed up to participate, collectively losing more than 141,000 pounds.

Cornett has brought national attention to this effort. He appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show in January and spoke to the national mayor's conference in June. Other major cities have been inspired to look at launching similar initiatives.

The Rodney L. Huey, M.D., Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health award will be accepted at the 2008 Champions of Health Awards, 6 p.m., Sept. 29 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The event features former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as keynote speaker and 2005 Champion of Oklahoma Health Dr. J. Mark Osborn as emcee.

Reservations to the Champions of Health awards banquet are available for $30 each and may be purchased through Friday, Sept. 19 by calling 1-866-876-4376. MasterCard and VISA payments are accepted.

Event sponsorships benefit the Oklahoma Caring Foundation's children's health initiatives. For more information about sponsorships or the awards banquet, go to

"To truly make an impact, it's important to shine a light on those whose efforts are making a difference in the health of Oklahomans," said Bert Marshall, president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. "Our goal is that together we can develop partnerships and replicate that impact throughout the state."

The Champions of Health awards program is presented by the following partner organizations: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association, the Oklahoma State Medical Association and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

As Champion of Oklahoma Health, Cornett receives a grant of $2,500 to award to the Oklahoma health improvement organization or project of his choice. Nine other Champions also will be honored and each awarded a $1,000 contribution to their organization or program:

Champion of the Uninsured - Insure Oklahoma, Oklahoma City - The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, working in partnership with insurance agents, health care providers and other state agencies, implemented the program that subsidizes the cost of private health insurance premiums for Oklahomans who qualify. Funded in part by a state tax on tobacco products, Insure Oklahoma also receives funding from the federal government that matches each state dollar approximate 2 to 1. Through Insure Oklahoma, 60 percent of an individual's health premiums are paid, leaving 25 percent to be paid by the employer and the remaining 15 percent by the employee. The program is offered to people with family incomes of up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. These individuals comprise the majority of the uninsured working class. Through Insure Oklahoma, nearly 13,000 Oklahomans are now covered by health insurance.

Education and Awareness Champion - Lawton/Fort Sill Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Team, Lawton - Fifteen high school students comprise the Lawton-Fort Sill Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Team, volunteering more than 20 hours a month to tobacco control work, offering a diligent and diversified approach through interactive community projects, educational training and policy advocacy to improve the health of Oklahomans. Student volunteers work to raise awareness about tobacco industry practices and the harm of secondhand smoke, while changing attitudes about tobacco and empowering youth to resist tobacco products. SWAT's work within Comanche County has impacted youth tobacco use. Risk and behavior surveys indicate youth tobacco use in the area is declining.

Champion of Children's Health - Norman Regional Health System, Norman - Norman Regional Health System partnered with the Norman Public Schools to financially support the establishment of school health services. Whereas the school district was only able to afford two school nurses and two part time health assistants, the partnership has made it possible for the school district to provide health services personnel at each school site, increasing access to school nurses, licensed practical nurses and 15 trained health assistants to the district's more than 13,000 students. This teamwork between the health system and the public school system is a model of community collaboration and a unique and innovative way to solve the difficult problem of funding health services for students in public schools.

Champion of Public Health - The Child Abuse Network, Inc., Tulsa - The Child Abuse Network (CAN) is an international model of effective community response to reported child abuse, bringing multiple disciplines together in a single safe and comforting environment for children in crisis. CAN enables medical, mental health, investigative and legal professionals to work together under one roof, providing less traumatic investigation while determining if child abuse has occurred. As one of the leading child advocacy units in the country, CAN is able to provide the highest level of compassionate forensic interviewing and medical evaluations.

Minority Health Champion - Cherokee Nation Health Partners, Tahlequah - The Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah City Hospital joined efforts to fight the growing epidemic of heart disease among Native Americans. Together they formed the Cherokee Health Partners, offering "big city" heart care to the Cherokee population served by the rural 82-bed Tahlequah City Hospital. The Cherokee Health Partners teamed with cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons to create an entire center specializing in heart care: the Northeast Oklahoma Heart Center. In addition to a cardio imaging center and nuclear medicine, rural Tahlequah now offers the Cherokee population a catheterization lab and heart procedures that surpass other heart centers in the nation. The hospital also offers air ambulatory service, a state of the art catheterization lab, cardiovascular and thoracic procedures, a cardiac care unit and cardiac rehabilitation unit. Since its inception in 2004, Cherokee Health Partners has served more than 3,700 patients.

Professional Health Care Champion - Frances Haas, D.O., Tulsa - Dr. Frances Hass of University of Oklahoma Physicians Tulsa, department of internal medicine, was one of the first physicians to volunteer on a weekly basis at the Bedlam Free Clinic. As a means for the underinsured and uninsured population of northeast Oklahoma to receive medical care, this clinic quickly became the medical home for more than 1,800 patients. Hass addressed the special health concerns of patients with HIV and hepatitis C by establishing a clinic to help identify high risk patients, providing them with testing, coordinating them into care and treatment if needed. The clinic provides all medical care, laboratory testing, counseling, social services and medication assistance.

Champion of Senior Health - Gail Potts / Senior Life Network, Enid - Senior Life Network programs, led by director Gail Potts, promote healthy lifestyles focusing on the benefits of regular exercise and proper nutrition to improve the quality of life of Oklahoma's seniors. Periodic health screenings, designed to identify health issues in their early stages, also are provided as part of a wellness-centered approach in supporting senior health. Exercises and health education classes are offered with regular health screenings to monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and cholesterol. An on-site physician referral program also is available, along with an information and referral program assisting individuals in locating resources and services within the community. Sponsors include the Northwest Oklahoma Osteopathic Foundation and INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center, who each contribute partial operational funds to support programs and staffing.

Health and Medical Media Champion - Lori Holliday / Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), Oklahoma City - Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), Oklahoma's only statewide public television network, works to deliver educational and public television programs to improve the health of Oklahomans. Led by Lori Holliday, OETA's director of educational and community outreach, OETA sheds light on issues that impact Oklahoma's health. Airing a series designed to raise awareness and promote involvement for a healthier Oklahoma, OETA addressed the issues of housing, cultural relations, education, jobs, community development, social support systems and tax policies, collectively framing them in the public health documentary series, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

Corporate Health Champion - Employee Wellness Initiative, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Oklahoma City - In 2004, Chesapeake Energy was honored as Corporate Health Champion. Since then, explosive growth has afforded more opportunities to educate, expand and enhance Chesapeake's wellness commitment to employees and family members. Expansion of the fitness center is underway, while field service employees are provided fitness membership reimbursement, annual health screenings and flu shots on-site. Participation in the "Living Well" program has grown significantly, resulting in improved personal health, higher exercise participation and increased awareness of health-related issues. The company offers extensive "lunch and learn" classes, healthy break room snacks, an on-site cafeteria with healthy meal choices, a $600 preventive health benefit, group exercise classes and weight management programs. In 2007, Chesapeake opened a full service medical and dental clinic on-site exclusively for Chesapeake employees and family members.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. (R) Registered Marks Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma
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