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Partnership aims to curb cardiovascular disease among African-Americans in Alabama

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — A new health initiative will address cardiovascular disease among African-Americans living in three counties in Alabama where the problem is considered significant.

The initiative is a public-private partnership led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which together with the Morehouse School of Medicine, awarded $900,000 to the National Baptist Convention USA to build on faith-based organizations to connect communities to vital healthcare resources like hypertension-management services, including blood pressure monitoring, free or low-cost medication and patient counseling and education.

Alabama is one of the states constituting the so-called "Stroke Belt," a region that includes most states in the South, and African-Americans living there frequently lack access to health care; 54 of the state’s 67 counties have a shortage of primary care, dental or mental health providers. According to 2009 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease.

The initiative is part of the Million Hearts Stroke Belt Project, which the HHS Office of Minority Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health are jointly funding.


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Kroger Central Division president Bob Moeder retires

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday announced the retirement of Central Division president Bob Moeder.

"During his 42-year career, Bob has consistently demonstrated his passion for and commitment to our associates, our customers and our local communities," stated Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s president and COO. "His improvement of our convenience store division and support on launching supermarket fuel has contributed to Kroger’s connection with customers and increased value for shareholders. We thank Bob and Marsha for their many years of dedicated service and wish them the best in retirement. I am sure Bob will remain involved in serving the Kroger family through his community service, passionately advocating for the causes that matter deeply to Bob and his family."

Moeder, originally from Kansas, began his career with Dillon Companies in 1971, working part-time for its Calhoun’s clothing division while attending college in Salina, Kan. He earned a degree in computer science from Kansas State University in 1971 and was recognized as a distinguished alumnus in 2008. Moeder also is a 1993 graduate of Leadership Kansas.

He was named president of Calhoun’s in 1984. In 1985, he joined Kwik Shop, a convenience store division of the Dillons Company, as assistant director of operations. He became EVP of Kwik Shop in 1991, and he was promoted to VP convenience stores and Turkey Hill Dairy in 1995. In 1999, he was named corporate VP convenience stores, supermarket petroleum group and Turkey Hill Dairy. In 2006, he was promoted to serve in his current role as president of Central Division.

During his tenure at Kroger Central Division, Moeder oversaw a strategic restructuring of the division, including a significant number of new store openings, expansions, remodels and store closings, leading to almost $1 billion in store investments and nearly 2,000 new jobs. Under his leadership, Central Division acquired Scott’s Food & Pharmacy in Fort Wayne and pursued a more than $105 million capital investment project across the Fort Wayne region. 

His passion for people guided effective investments in community relationships and increased community support to nearly $15 million per year, Kroger reported.

 

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Climate change could exacerbate flu epidemic, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — While experts say climate change could produce a wide range of side effects, a new one could be earlier and more severe flu seasons, according to a new study.

Researchers at Arizona State University and Northeastern Illinois University — led by ASU Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center research professor Sherry Towers — studied influenza and climate patterns in the United States from the 1997-1998 season to the present using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found that strong flu seasons usually followed warm winters, a pattern that held true for the A and B strains of influenza.

"It appears that fewer people contract influenza during warm winters, and this causes a major portion of the population to remain vulnerable into the next season, causing an early and strong emergence," Towers said. "And when a flu season begins exceptionally early, much of the population has not had a chance to get vaccinated, potentially making that flu season even worse."

The researchers noted that the current season started early and fiercely, despite a relatively light 2011-2012 season that coincided with the fourth warmest winter on record; flu transmission decreases in warm and humid conditions, according to previous studies. But if global warming continues, warm winters will become more common, and the effects of the flu will be stronger.

"The expedited manufacture and distribution of vaccines and aggressive vaccination programs could significantly diminish the severity of future influenza epidemics," ASU mathematical epidemiologist Gerardo Chowell-Puente said.

The study, published online Monday in PLoS Currents: Influenza, received partial support from the Multinational Influenza Seasonal Mortality Study, overseen by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center.


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