Take a Heart-Healthy Approach to Life
February is American Heart Month, and while heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States across all ages, genders, and ethnicities, the highest risk of a cardiovascular event falls within minority populations.
In fact, deaths related to heart attacks and strokes increased during the pandemic and disproportionately affected Black, Hispanic, and Asian adults – this according to a publication of the American Heart Association.
Clinical risk factors associated with heart disease include hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. In response to the need for awareness, attention, support, and aid to current and future patients, Whittier Street Health Center has initiated a comprehensive telehealth program that will provide home care and community-based medical services through specialized telehealth equipment purchased with the funds obtained by the FCC Emergency COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
Our Telehealth Remote Patient Monitoring Initiative simplifies how patients, physicians, and outreach clinicians track, monitor, and manage the health conditions of our patients. Particularly unique to this initiative is a Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Hypertension System so that patients can receive effective treatment in the comfort of their own home. Additionally, patients served would receive a free Remote Patient Monitoring Diabetes tool, to communicate readings to Whittier in real-time.
The telehealth program will target Whittier patients who are at highest risk for hypertension and/or diabetes. In our Federal Bureau of Primary Health Care Uniform Data System (UDS) report for 2020, the number of patients with hypertension was 3,000 and those with diabetes was 1,600. Of this number reported in the UDS, we are selecting 20% of the patients for this program because they have the highest risks. The Whittier Telehealth Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) Program, in addition to Whittier’s current community outreach strategies will effectively and efficiently meet the needs of this high-risk and vulnerable population.
“This initiative is a priority,” said Dr. Joseph Marcel-Saint-Louis DeMertine, Lead Physician Wellness Specialist Services at Whittier Street Health Center. “The health needs of Whittier’s patients are significant, especially related to chronic diseases.”
In fact, 45.1% of Whittier’s patients have been diagnosed with at least one of the following chronic conditions: diabetes, hypertension, cancer, asthma, or obesity, according to Dr. DeMertine. Some 34.2% of Whittier’s patients are diagnosed with two or more of the above mentioned conditions and are living with co-morbidities.
The telehealth program is considered a major step toward reducing those eye-opening statistics.
We can all benefit greatly from living a heart-healthy life, one that includes a beneficial diet, physical activity, managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reducing stress, when possible. Let’s all take extra care of our heart health and encourage our loved ones to do the same.