On June 30, 2016, the Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) honored the County of San Diego with a 2016 HOAC Communications Award in the category of “Most Impactful Campaign in a Large Jurisdiction” for the Love Your Heart campaign.
Each year for the past five years, the County of San Diego and community partners throughout the San Diego region offered free blood pressure screenings during Valentine’s Day week for Love Your Heart Day. On February 11, 2016, more than 90 organizations in San Diego County, Orange County and Border States in Mexico screened upwards of 30,000 people at more than 150 sites.
More than the numbers, though, are the individuals whose lives were changed by their participation in the event.
“At the 2015 Love Your Heart event, I had my blood pressure checked just as I did every year since the event started, and the results stunned me!” said Dale Fleming, Strategy Director for the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. “I wasn’t in an emergency state, but the nurse told me I should go see my doctor for further evaluation as soon as possible. I was admitted into urgent care later that evening and was finally released with medication. I am now on regular medication and have my blood pressure checked on a regular basis to make sure my numbers are under control.”
One out of every two individuals with a reported blood pressure level in San Diego County was identified as having an elevated blood pressure during the 2016 event. Of these, 101 individuals were identified as having urgent or emergent hypertension requiring immediate medical referral.
The theme of Love Your Heart 2016 was “Join the Heart Health Movement,” and to encourage more people to get involved, the County used traditional and non-traditional marketing tools. Through multiple press events, testimonial videos, digital media promotions, and educational materials provided to participants on the day of the event, residents were educated about the importance of heart health. Additionally, in partnership with 2-1-1 San Diego, health navigators were present at some sites to assist in connecting San Diegans with needed resources. An additional 43 clients were referred from a Love Your Heart screening site to 2-1-1 San Diego.
Adding to these promotional efforts, and recognizing the importance of telling the stories of individuals who participate in Love Your Heart – community members, students and employees who get their blood pressure checked, as well as nurses and volunteers who give their time to make the event a success – the County of San Diego expanded upon a live storytelling campaign launched in 2014 to accompany the local media coverage of the event.
County staff visited screening sites on Love Your Heart day to capture stories, photos and videos on the ground; then they sent these to a team at headquarters who posted the stories on the Live Well San Diego website news page. To generate buzz around Love Your Heart, the County also implemented a live social media feed using #loveyourheartsd. Community members and volunteers shared photos and captions on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook about their experience, which populated a single feed on the LoveYourHeartSD.org home page.
Additional innovative communications tools included:
Recognizing the impact of the Love Your Heart campaign, the Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) honored the County of San Diego with a 2016 HOAC Communications Award in the category of “Most Impactful Campaign in a Large Jurisdiction.”
“Each of these extraordinary campaigns represents the best of the day-to-day work being done by local health departments to build healthier communities,” said Kat DeBurgh, Executive Director of HOAC. “It’s not always easy to talk about the health of the public. It’s both a highly personal endeavor and one dependent on the strength of our communities and institutions. Yet these award winners have made positive change possible by bringing people together with cutting-edge communications.”
These communications efforts will be expanded upon to ensure that Love Your Heart has a positive impact in the lives of tens of thousands of residents for many years to come.
Special thanks to all the partner organizations and individuals who have helped to make Love Your Heart a meaningful and impactful event, and for the shared commitment to continuing to grow the heart health movement in the San Diego region and beyond.