The Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative will reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases

The Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative will reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases

American Heart Association in the Mohawk Valley Executive Director Christine Kisiel, left, and Jeremy Robinson, Senior Vice President Customer Relations, NYCM Insurance, at the launch of the Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative on Thursday, March 31.

The Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative will reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases

Far left, Christine Kisiel, executive director of the American Heart Association, and far right, Mackenzie Shorter, Community Impact Director, American Heart Association, join, from left, Patty Charvat of Mohawk Valley Health System, Dr. Cynthia Jones of Mosaic Health, and Rich Williams, RN, of Upstate Family Health, Inc. Their institutions are part of the Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative.

Michael Hyman was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2014, and recently started using a self-monitoring blood pressure device. He began eating better and exercising more, and today, has a healthy blood pressure level.

That self-monitoring blood pressure program is becoming more widely available, as the American Heart Association launched the Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative on March 31 in a special gathering at the Johnson Park Center in Utica.

Four organizations have supported the American Heart Association with a total of $260,000, and from those funds, the American Heart Association is equipping local medical practices and Federally Qualified Health Centers in the Mohawk Valley with self-monitoring blood pressure devices, educational materials in multiple languages, training and support. The program is available to current patients with hypertension at those health centers, and involves a screening process and working with medical professionals there. The American Heart Association is also equipping community-based organizations with devices to do blood pressure screenings for their clientele.

“We are excited to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing high blood pressure in the Mohawk Valley,” said Christine Kisiel, Executive Director of the American Heart Association in the Mohawk Valley. “We are honored to have the financial support of the participating organizations, and are glad that so many organizations are able to offer the self-monitoring blood pressure devices to their clients and patients.”

The four funders of the Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative are NYCM Insurance, The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, Utica National Group Foundation, and the Ronald and Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund.

“This blood pressure program is the perfect example of the kind of community investment that NYCM is proud to make,” said Jeremy J. Robinson, Senior Vice President Customer Relations, NYCM Insurance. “Helping hundreds of people in the Mohawk Valley learn their blood pressure rates will prevent heart disease and stroke. We’ve been supporting the American Heart Association for 30 years, and look forward to taking this step with them in their mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.”

“We are so pleased to support this effort, along with other community partners, to advance the American Heart Association’s efforts aimed at better health for all,” said Alicia Dicks, president/CEO of the Community Foundation. “It’s a fact that the disadvantaged in our neighborhoods, especially people of color, suffer disproportionately from high blood pressure and heart disease, and the Community Foundation applauds this measure as a step toward a healthier, more equitable community.” 

“The Utica National Group Foundation is proud to support the American Heart Association efforts to help folks in our area become healthier – in particular, through the self-monitored blood pressure program,” said Bernard Turi, Esq., Executive Vice President, General Counsel, General Auditor & Chief Risk Officer, Utica National Group. “This great program is right in the ‘wheelhouse’ of the mission of the Utica National Group Foundation – to help those in need in our community live a better life. On behalf of our Company and our Foundation, I want to thank the American Heart Association and Johnson Park for what they do, and for the opportunity to help make our area a better place to live and work.”

“My family history is one of heart disease, with my father and one brother having heart attacks at the age of 27,” said Sheila Cuccaro of the Ronald and Sheila Cuccaro Family Fund. “My brother passed away at the age of 54 while waiting for a transplant. But, research and science developed treatments and knowledge, and when my mother had a heart attack at age 67, medication kept her going until she had open heart surgery at the age of 94. She lived to be 101. Our granddaughter was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery when she was 10 days old. Last June, she graduated from Northwestern University. The work of the American Heart Association literally gave her life, and has helped many family members. We’re honored to support the Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative, and help prevent heart disease in other families.”

To date, the program, which involves the use of the self-monitoring blood pressure devices,  is available at certain locations and for patients of Mosaic Health; Upstate Family Health Center; Mohawk Valley Health System and Bassett Health Network. The Johnson Park Center will host blood pressure clinics on Tuesday afternoons between 3 and 6 p.m. for their consumers.

“We’re glad to be part of the Mohawk Valley Blood Pressure Initiative,” said the Rev. Ursula Meier, chief operations officer at Johnson Park Center. “Information is power, and we look forward to having our clients know this important health factor.”

“Upstate Family Health works with many patients who may not have the resources they need to manage their own health,” said Richard Williams, RN, director of nursing services, risk management and advocacy coordinator at Upstate Family Health. “This initiative will allow us to provide in-home blood pressure monitoring along with detailed and easy to understand patient education.  The beauty is that by working with our community partners through this initiative, we will be able to translate this patient education in many different languages.  That way all within this community will have the opportunity to better manage their healthcare without needless barriers.”

“It’s no exaggeration to call blood pressure ‘the silent killer,’” said Dr. Cynthia Jones, medical director of Mosaic Health and board member of the American Heart Association in the Mohawk Valley. “Too many people have it and don’t know it, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke. This program will make it easy for people to know what their blood pressure is. Thank you to the funders who are helping save lives in our communities.”

“The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) is delighted to be collaborating with the American Heart Association and so many community partners to help prevent heart disease in our communities,” said Patricia Charvat, MVHS Senior Vice President, Marketing & Strategy. “Together, with this initiative and other community projects, we will make a difference in the quality of life and health of our community members.”  

For information about the program, email heartofutica@heart.org or call 315.580.3956.