Libraries serve as gateways to knowledge and culture. They play a fundamental role in many communities as places to gather, learn, and borrow books. Thanks to a collaboration between the American Heart Association and the Queens Public Library, Far Rockaway library is now a place to manage your blood pressure.
Starting this week, patrons of the Far Rockaway branch will be able to borrow blood pressure self-monitoring kits using only their library card.
Celeste Grimes, 67, a grandmother and stroke survivor from Far Rockaway expressed her excitement for the new lending program. She was the first person to borrow a self-monitoring kit.
“With just this card I was able to take this blood pressure machine home,” Grimes said proudly holding her Queens Public Library card in one hand and the blood pressure kit in the other. “I’m going to have my family members come over and take their pressure. I want to help as many people as possible know their numbers. We might have a blood pressure monitoring party!”
High blood pressure or hypertension is often called the “silent killer” and is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke, which together kills more New Yorkers than any other disease. Nationwide, nearly half of US adults has hypertension with Black and Latino adults being more likely to have high blood pressure.
“My father died of an aneurysm, my mother had high blood pressure and I had a stroke when I was 42,” Grimes said, “We have a family history, so I have to keep my blood pressure in check. To have a machine that gives me the freedom to do it at home, where I am calm, makes me genuinely excited.”
The American Heart Association recommends regular monitoring for all people with high blood pressure to help their healthcare provider determine whether treatments are working.
“Bringing resources to the communities that need it most is crucial to the mission of the American Heart Association,” said Shanon Morris, Senior Director of Community Impact for the Association in New York City. “We call hypertension the silent killer for a reason: if people don’t know their numbers, they can’t receive the treatment they need or make better choices that will help them live longer, healthier lives. We hope to empower residents to be advocates for their own health.”
Sharon L. Anderson, the Far Rockaway branch manager, has played a pivotal role in building the partnership with the American Heart Association and helped identify the need in the community for health intervention.
“Responding to the needs of our community, the Far Rockaway Library has hosted numerous health fairs and other wellness initiatives over the years,” says Anderson. “We welcome our partnership with the American Heart Association which brings additional resources to our neighborhood, allowing our customers who don’t make regular visits to their doctors to monitor their blood pressure and seek help, if necessary.”
While self-measured blood pressure is not a substitute for regular visits to your physician, it is a great way to track your numbers and the more information you can bring to your doctor when you visit, the more your treatment plan can be tailored to you.
“Queens Public Library is committed to building strong communities by offering access to a wide range of free wellness programs and services which help our customers stay healthy and thrive,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “I am grateful to the American Heart Association for this innovative partnership, and I want to recognize Far Rockaway Library Manager Sharon Anderson for her tireless efforts to identify and respond to the needs of this community.”
Adults with a library card will be able to borrow the kits for one month with an option to renew it one time if needed. In addition to launching a loaner program, the Far Rockaway branch will also have a blood pressure station for adults who don’t want to check out the cuff, but just use it when they visit the library.
The Far Rockaway Library – which is currently operating out of a temporary space, while its new permanent state-of-the-art home is under construction – has long served as the center of community life. Its importance was well-demonstrated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when it was used to provide disaster relief to residents.
Diego is the Communications Director for the American Heart Association in New York City. He loves sharing powerful stories that inspire people to take control of their health.