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Advocate Spotlight: Deb Carlson

Deb Carlson is President and CEO of Nebraska Methodist College, and recently joined the Greater Omaha Division Board of Directors of the AHA.  Deb says having seen the effects of heart disease and stroke on her family and friends, joining our cause was a very personal decision.  "We all have choices to make with our limited free time, and being an advocate for the AHA is a great use of my time and one that I know makes a difference," said Deb.  Deb recently shared her story with the AHA.  


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I was honored to be asked to join the AHA Board this year. Nebraska Methodist College is an AHA training site and we have always been strong advocates of the American Heart Association. I’m proud of the number of people that we train and recertify each year and the differences that they make. 

I also love celebrating National Heart Month at the college. It is fun to see the activities that faculty, staff and students come up with to raise money for the Heart Walk. This year it was especially amazing to see the number of hearts around the college that were put up in tribute to someone they knew who had experienced heart-related health issues. It truly is personal for all of us. That is why I’m very proud to have Nebraska Methodist College sponsor the Heart Walk.  Our students enjoy making a difference in the community and working with the AHA staff on the Heart Walk. For our students, saving lives is their Why.

As an educator, I’m also very proud to be associated with an organization that is working on prevention. There is so much we can do in the workplace, schools and at home to promote healthy lifestyles. That the No. 1 killer in our nation (cardiovascular disease) can be prevented in many cases is not acceptable. We encourage our students and employees to be change agents in this area.

Another issue that I’m passionate about is expanding cardiac rehabilitation services. My daughters and daughter in-law are Occupational and Physical Therapists and they tell stories daily of the devastation that stroke has on lives. The research is clear on the impact that therapy has on reducing hospital readmissions, improving healthy behaviors, getting back to work and everyday quality of life. The financial cap on therapy services does not make sense. Patients just start to make progress and then may not have the means to continue therapy when Medicare stops paying.

Having seen the effects of heart disease and stroke on family and friends makes it personal for me. We all have choices to make with our limited free time, and being an advocate for the AHA is a great use of my time and one that I know makes a difference. 

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