A partnership has launched an effort to improve the health of Summit County residents with the help of as much as $2 million a year in federal funds.

The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron joined more than 60 other social service and medical organizations last week to kick off its Accountable Care Community project.

“We’re looking to involve every aspect of our community,” said Janine E. Janosky, vice president of the institute’s Center for Clinical and Community Health Improvement. “We’re committed to improve the health of the community.”

The BioInnovation Institute is a collaboration among Akron’s three hospital systems, the Northeast Ohio Medical University, the University of Akron and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The institute is working with the Summit County Health Department, United Way and numerous other community groups to develop programs that reduce chronic illness while improving healthy lifestyles and access to medical care for Summit County residents.

The local effort is receiving between $500,000 and $2 million a year for five years from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Community Transformation.

During the next nine months, the partners are evaluating community needs and determining what policies and local programs are in place to address health problems, Janosky said.

Areas that probably will be targeted include smoking, active living, healthy eating, preventive services, social and emotional wellness and safe physical environments, she said.

One example of a successful community initiative that could be expanded is a recent project by the Bio-Innovation Institute to work with diabetic patients at a nursing clinic at the University of Akron and family medicine centers at Akron General and Summa health systems, she said.

The 26 participants attended 12 two-hour sessions over six months last year to learn ways to control their disease through diet, exercise and other methods.

More than half of the participants lost weight and decreased their body-mass index, said Dr. Jennifer Teller, director of the study. The patients also had better control of their blood sugar levels, resulting in fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

“They were exercising more, because they learned you can do exercise anywhere,” she said. “They were reading food labels better, so they were able to make healthy food choices.”

For information about the Accountable Care Community project, go to www.abiakron.org.

Tree festival record

Akron Children’s Hospital is celebrating the results of the most recent Holiday Tree Festival, held in November.

The 30th annual event raised more than $240,000, the most in the history of the fundraiser.

“This event has spanned generations and to have set a new record shows that the community supports our mission to provide care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay,” Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation Executive Director John Zoilo said in a news release.

Magnet status renewed

The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program recently redesignated Akron Children’s Hospital as a “Magnet Hospital.”

Akron Children’s is one of 34 pediatric hospitals nationwide to earn the distinction. Less than 7 percent of all hospitals nationwide have the designation.

To earn recognition, hospitals must go through an extensive review to prove they meet national benchmarks for patient outcomes and satisfaction, as well as nursing practice and nurse involvement in hospital decision-making.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or chpowell@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.