American Heart Association announces “Adopt-A--Clinic” program to address Hawai`i’s critical hypertension control needs

people presenting blood pressure machine

Hawai`i companies step up to adopt federally qualified health centers to provide Association-backed equipment, training and resources 

Thanks to financial support from Hawai`i businesses, the American Heart Association (Association) announced today that it is adopting Hawai`i Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to support their efforts to better control hypertension, or high blood pressure, in their patients.

Hypertension, when the force of blood flowing through your blood vessels is consistently too high, continues to be a serious concern and is one of the Association’s priority issues in driving equitable health impact in the community. Over 100 million Americans – nearly half of all adults – are living with high blood pressure. Left undetected or uncontrolled, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and other health threats. In 2019, 29.09% of patients who utilize FQHCs have diagnosed hypertension [Uniform Data System, 2019].

The numbers are even worse in some areas of Hawai`i. For instance, on Kauai, 77% of residents have been on high blood pressure medications [Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2017]. This puts those patients at high risk for heart attack and stroke in usual circumstances, but it may put them at even greater risk from complications from COVID-19 if they were to be infected.

“Successful blood pressure management requires people to regularly monitor their blood pressure and respond to changes to keep numbers under control,” said Association Hawai`i Division Board President Michael Lui, M.D., a Hawai`i Pacific Health neurologist. “Hypertension is known as the ‘silent killer’ but with proper treatment and management, you can control your blood pressure to help you live a long and healthy life. Many individuals are treated at clinics regularly for check-ups and monitoring but getting frequent blood pressure checks is difficult when the health care system is overwhelmed, people are urged to stay home, and not everyone can afford a personal blood pressure monitor. From a neurologist perspective, controlling blood pressure is one of the most important controllable risk factors in preventing stroke.”

The goal of the Adopt-A-Clinic program is to provide equipment, education, training and increase hypertension management in the communities that FQHCs serve. The Adopt-A-Clinic program empowers patients to manage their hypertension independently from home, as well as reinforce the FQHC’s staff support of those patients.

The American Heart Association’s Adopt-A-Clinic Campaign was chaired by Kelly Sanders, SVP of Operations at Highgate and the late Martha Smith, EVP of O`ahu operations at Hawai`i Pacific Health.  Through their volunteer leadership, a number of Hawai`i businesses have agreed to sponsor the Association’s efforts to adopt Hawai`i FQHCs throughout the state. Clinics already adopted and their business sponsors include:

  • Bay Clinic, Inc--adopted by ALTRES Inc
  • Kalihi-Palama Health Center--adopted by Servco 
  • Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Service--adopted by Hawai`i Pacific Health
  • Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center--adopted by HMSA
  • Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center--adopted by Karen and Jeff Deer, Hawaiian Electric, and Nordic PCL/Albert C. Kobayashi, Inc./Rider Levett Bucknall
  • Waikiki Health--adopted by Highgate
  • Wahiawā Center for Community Health--adopted by Bank of Hawaii Foundation
  • Waimānalo Health Center--adopted by First Hawaiian Bank
  • West Hawaii Community Health Center--adopted by Stanford Carr Development

“As co-chairs of the American Heart Association’s 2021 Heart Ball, the late Martha Smith and I felt it was important to pivot from the traditional gala event, which couldn’t be held during the pandemic, and work with Hawai`i’s business community to support the Association while finding a way to help those most in need. The Adopt-a-Clinic campaign helped us achieve that goal,” said Sanders. “At Highgate we put people first and although we had to close all of our hotels for 10 months, sponsoring the Waikiki Health Clinic was for us a small way to help the community at large and especially those living within the same area as our business.”

“We are pleased to sponsor the Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Service Center, with whom we have a long affiliation through Kapi`olani Medical Center for Women & Children,” said Ray Vara, President and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health.    “Martha Smith was a long-time American Heart Association volunteer and was instrumental in securing community support for the Adopt-A-Clinic campaign. The improvements expected in helping patients across the state better control their blood pressure, and reducing their risk for heart disease or stroke, will be just one of her many legacies.”

“We’re proud to support the American Heart Association’s Adopt-a-Clinic initiative, and have pledged our support to Malama I Ke Ola Health Center,” said HMSA President and Chief Executive Officer Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S. “This initiative is in line with HMSA’s mission to create a healthier Hawai`i and will help our high-risk population with effective tools for blood pressure monitoring and maintenance.”

“Health Literacy is a key predicator of clinical outcomes,” said Emmanuel Kintu, D.Mgt., MBA, CEO/executive director at Kalihi Palama Health Center. “Therefore, effective education is a critical component of working with patients to improve clinical outcomes. Working with the American Heart Association will give us an additional set of validated training and communication tools. With these tools we will be better equipped to engage more effectively with our patients. It is also prompting us to pay even more attention to how we educate our patients and how we engage patients to participate in their own care. We can better assist them by sharing these effective tools.”

“The Adopt a Clinic initiative helps us to provide equipment to our patients and empower them so that they are able to closely monitor their own blood pressure and have more control of their health by creating an awareness around activities and foods the affect their blood pressure,” said Mālia Purdy, PhD, MPH, programs director, Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center on Maui.

For more information on sponsoring a health center contact Lesli Yano at (808) 754-7637, or at [email protected].

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