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In 2007, the leadership team at Grinnell Regional Medical Center participated in a pilot project with the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) to assess the stress level of individual team members and its effect on the organization.
At the beginning of the project, the leadership team completed a Personal and Organizational Quality Assessment (POQA-R). Results showed that a high percentage of the participants were experiencing fatigue, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and depression.
The leadership team participated in a Transforming Stress workshop and began using IHM techniques to deal with the stresses in their personal and professional lives. A 1-month follow up revealed improvement in six of the 10 categories assessed: fatigue, anxiety, depression, anger management, resentfulness, and stress symptoms.
Based on this success, GRMC and IHM initiated The Heart of Grinnell: A Community-Wide Rural Health Wellness Initiative to determine if these results could be replicated on a community level. This project is a health and disease promotion, chronic disease prevention, and education wellness initiative. Located in Grinnell and Poweshiek County, Iowa, this initiative is a multicomponent, community-wide intervention that includes Grinnell College, schools, churches, businesses, social service agencies, local government, and Grinnell Regional Medical Center in partnership with IHM and the University of Iowa College of Public Health. At the center of this project is the goal of training community groups on using a scientifically researched program created by the IHM designed to reduce stress and increase coherence. Coherence implies order, structure, harmony, and alignment among systems—whether in cells and organs, entire organisms, or social groups including communities and counties.
The primary objective of The Heart of Grinnell project is to measure the results of a community-wide program to increase community coherence and stress reduction in order to improve adherence to positive wellness behaviors; physical biometrics; productivity by reducing absenteeism and improving workplace morale; and coherence in the workplace, schools, homes, and community.