Each year, the AHA NOVA Awards celebrate health care organizations that make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable in their communities. While the programs are different, one element is the same: All employ extensive collaboration with like-minded community partners. Here's a brief look at the winners:

Chicago Westside Children's Asthma Partnership, Sinai Health System, Chicago: The partnership has led to reductions in the frequency of asthma symptoms, fewer ED visits and hospitalizations, decreased exposure to asthma triggers in the home and fewer nighttime home asthma emergencies.

Health-E-Access Tele-medicine Program, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, N.Y.: Because of the program, illness-related absences in inner-city child care centers have declined by more than half, ED visits by sick kids have fallen by almost 25 percent and surveys suggest that the remote visits allow more parents to stay at work.

Healthy San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco: Almost 49,000 uninsured residents (81 percent of the city's total) have enrolled in a universal health insurance program, and 78 percent have accessed primary care. That has led to a 27 percent decrease in hospital emergency department visits in the first year of the program.

Lee County Behavioral Triage Center, Lee Memorial Health System, Fort Myers, Fla.: The center provides law enforcement and hospital EDs with alternatives to jailing or hospitalizing people with symptoms of mental illness or intoxication. Patients are offered assessments and are given referrals to more appropriate treatment settings.

Healthy Futures, Munson Healthcare System, Traverse City, Mich.: The program helps young families access health care and other supportive services. Outcomes data through late 2009 show 99 percent of pregnant women are connected with an obstetrician and 87 percent receive prenatal care in the first trimester.

For more on the AHA NOVA Award winners, go to www.hhnmag.com. An application for the 2011 awards is available at www.aha.org/aha/news-center/awards/NOVA.html.