The Aiken Mended Hearts chapter was named the top chapter in United States.This month at the annual Mended Hearts National Convention in Orlando, Fla., Chapter #294 of Aiken received the President's Cup designating it the best in the United States. The final judging came down to chapters in the following five cities, Cookesville, Tenn.; Lexington, Ky.; Pontiac, Mich.; Dayton, Ohio; and Aiken.Margaret Elbert of Floral Park, N.Y., immediate past president of MHI and presenter of the cup, said, "Judging this award was never an easy task as the quality of the nominations is just so outstanding - but that's a good problem to have. "These chapters represent Mended Hearts at its best and provide a standard by which all chapters should aspire. "As a reminder, some of the key criteria include content of chapter meetings, a variety of heart patient-related subjects, growth in number of visits and visitors trained, attendance at chapter meetings and other MHI meetings such as clusters, growth in membership and local public recognition." Elbert commented on the Aiken chapter saying, "Last year, 49 visitors saw 1,435 patients. The chapter's contributions to the community are legendary." A few examples of the chapter's accomplishments are $25,000 for 12 AEDs to the sheriff's department; $10,000 to Aiken Technical College nursing department to purchase a heart monitor/ defibrillator and a patient simulator mannequin with interactive ECG simulator for use in training nurses; plus $5,000 to their emergency medical technician program to purchase Advanced EMT Training equipment thus allowing the college to certify EMF graduates; $16,000 to the Cardiac Enhancement Program at USC Aiken Wellness Center to purchase specialized rehab equipment, more than $13,000 was donated to the USCA School of Nursing for cardiac training equipment and the American Heart Association received $3,500.Each year, Chapter #294 holds a golf tournament. It will be at the Reserve Course at Woodside on Sept. 14. All of the proceeds of this tournament are used to purchase different types of equipment to help agencies dealing with heart patients, equipment those agencies could usually not afford.The local chapter is sponsored and encouraged by Aiken Regional Medical Centers in the visitation program where two MH members visit heart patients at ARMC every day of the year to encourage them and answer nonmedical questions based on their own heart operation experience.Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States. Aiken is proud that ARMC ranks first in South Carolina in heart facilities and staff. Patrick Boardman, chapter president, said, "When past president Marilyn Kohl, our representative at the national conference, notified us of our victory, we were really excited. We have been runner up a couple of times but being No. 1 is an awesome realization. This award was a team effort. Each member of the chapter contributed to our success. It did all our hearts good."
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