American Heart Association Announces Gifts of $6.5 Million to Expand and Enhance Heart Attack Care in Rural Minnesota

Jun 13, 2013, 13:00 ET from American Heart Association

ST. PAUL, Minn., June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Heart Association, announced today that it has secured $6.5 million in funding to enhance systems of care for heart attack patients in rural Minnesota through its Mission: Lifeline program.

"This initiative represents a significant investment in Minnesota's healthcare system, especially in our rural areas," said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health. "We are pleased to be partnering with The Helmsley Charitable Trust, and private and nonprofit organizations across the state to provide these important, lifesaving services to our citizens."

The initiative will be implemented over three years. Lead funder is The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which is providing a grant of $4.6 million. Medtronic Philanthropy has committed $300,000 to the project. The Otto Bremer Foundation is supporting the initiative with a $200,000 grant, and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has also committed $100,000. Other funders include Karla and Tim O'Donnell, Dakota Medical Foundation, Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, Mayo Clinic Health System Mankato, Thom Family Foundation, John F. Rooney Family Charitable Foundation, and St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth and its foundation. In-kind contributions from the American Heart Association and other partners will provide an additional $1 million in project resources.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans have the most serious type of heart attack known as an ST-elevated myocardial infarction, or STEMI, in which blood flow is completely blocked to a portion of the heart. Unless the blockage is eliminated quickly, the patient's life is at serious risk. Currently, around two-thirds of STEMI patients fail to receive the best available treatments to restore blood flow. Mission: Lifeline seeks to save lives by closing the gaps that separate STEMI patients from timely access to appropriate treatments. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 8,566 people were hospitalized in Minnesota for acute heart attack in 2011, of those 2,284 were STEMIs. Although Mission: Lifeline is focused on improving the system of care for patients who suffer from a STEMI in rural areas each year, improving that system will ultimately improve care for all heart attack patients.

"We are truly grateful to The Helmsley Charitable Trust for this grant," said Richard Mullvain, STEMI program manager at Essentia Health Heart & Vascular Center in Duluth. "Along with the Mission: Lifeline initiative, it will help Minnesota to better coordinate heart attack care, which will mean better outcomes for patients, and more lives saved. Time is muscle when someone is having a heart attack, so getting a patient proper treatment faster, especially in rural areas, is crucial."

In collaboration with stakeholders representing hospitals, individual ambulance services and regional EMS Medical Directors, the project will enhance many critical elements of an optimal STEMI system of care: a system-wide data tool for quality measurement and improvement; ongoing medical provider training and STEMI education; coordination of protocols for rural EMS and hospital personnel; regional plans for rapid transport of patients; and a public education campaign on heart attack symptoms and the need to call 9-1-1. Targeted funding will be provided to assist hospitals and ambulance services in acquiring essential ECG equipment and training.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust and the American Heart Association launched Mission: Lifeline in South Dakota in July 2010 with a commitment of $8.4 million from the Trust. From 2011 through 2012, the Trust also generously committed additional funding for Mission: Lifeline in two other states: $4.4 million for North Dakota and nearly $6 million for Wyoming. With the recent award for rural Minnesota, the total commitment from the Trust for Mission: Lifeline has reached $23.4 million.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America's No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. To learn more visit

About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in a variety of selected areas. Since 2008, it has committed more than $900 million to a wide range of organizations. The Trust's Rural Healthcare Program funds projects that use technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. This program has awarded more than $180 million to initiatives in the upper Midwest. For more information please visit

SOURCE American Heart Association