Heart of a Buckeye

It takes heart and determination to make a difference so it’s only natural that Ohio State’s Mark Conselyea turned to the American Heart Association when he wanted to find a cause to support.

“It’s a great organization,” Conselyea said. “It’s got a close connection with the Wexner Medical Center and things in which I’m actively involved.”

Cardiovascular disease occurs every 39 seconds and is historically the number one killer of all Americans. Conselyea, associate vice president for Ohio State’s Facilities Operations and Development (FOD), is joining the fight against heart disease and stroke. He’s encouraging his fellow Buckeyes to tighten up their shoelaces and sign up for the AHA Central Ohio Heart Walk scheduled to take place August 21, 2021. The annual heart walk, which is returning to an in-person event this year, is a noncompetitive, 1 or 3-mile walk through downtown Columbus.

If you want to get involved, Conselyea is seeking team captains to take a leadership role and to recruit fellow Buckeyes (contact). Captains and walkers have the great opportunity to get others involved, to fundraise with a team and raise awareness in their communities. 

“This is the perfect time where we could unlock the potential of the rest of the university to get behind the American Heart Association Heart Walk and also bring that expertise to the rest of the campus through education, training and engagement,” Conselyea said.

Conselyea is hoping to improve the health outcomes of his own staff and employees across Ohio State, while supporting AHA’s goal to raise $2.5 million.

Results from annual staff Physical Health Assessment surveys show that Ohio State’s Office of Administration and Planning (A&P), the unit where Conselyea’s facilities staff reside, scored a 62 on the health and wellness index, compared to a 65 for the broader Ohio State. The benchmark score is 66. The higher the score, the better the results so there is room for improvement within FOD, A&P and the university. 

Risk factors such as obesity and nutrition contributed to lower scores for A&P and FOD staff.

“While A&P’s Health Productivity Index score derived from the faculty and staff personal health assessment and biometric screening is slightly below the university’s average, our university-wide wellness team will work with all of our units to enhance their commitment, support and activities to promote, protect and empower wellness in our people, especially as we emerge from the negative impacts of the pandemic,” said Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, vice president for health promotion, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing at Ohio State. “As the famous Benjamin Franklin quote goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ Work that we put in now to improve our people’s health and wellbeing will pay off in increased resilience, energy, happiness and productivity while decreasing the stress, anxiety and burnout that many people are feeling.”

“There’s a huge opportunity for us to engage with our staff to understand why and look for ways to invite them to engage differently in their health,” Conselyea said.

“We know that 80% of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, can be prevented with just a few healthy lifestyle behaviors,” Melnyk said. “We have a goal of being the healthiest university and academic health center on the planet. To do that, we must continue to cultivate a culture of wellness that prioritizes personal well-being and empowers and supports people to make the changes necessary to live happier, healthier lives.”

The Ohio State University and Wexner Medical Center are considered national role models in the pursuit of heart health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognized the institutions as the first in the Midwest and fourth in the nation to be designated as a Million Hearts® Health Center for their efforts to prevent heart attacks and strokes. 

More than 1,000,000 people in 300 cities are currently taking part in the American Heart Walk. The American Heart Association’s work touches many of the patients we serve at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and brings communities together to raise funds and celebrate progress in the fight against this country’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers, heart disease and stroke. The money raised from the program goes toward research to treat and prevent heart disease, pediatric heart and strokes and to provide live-saving information to the community.

“It’s sort of a rallying point to get people engaged and focused on a goal,” Conselyea said.

The 2021 Central Ohio Heart Walk takes place on Saturday, August 21, at McFerson Commons. Participants are also able to engage in a virtual experience provided by the American Heart Association. Register to participate in the heart walk and join Team Ohio State by visiting go.osu.edu/heartwalk2021. Our partnership with the American Heart Association helps us to improve the health of those we serve.

Questions? Email heartcenter@osumc.edu or visit wexnermedical.osu.edu/heart.