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posted: 12/26/2013 1:56 PM

Free blood pressure checks build community ties

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  • Joseph Lee of Glendale Heights has his blood pressure checked by Adventist GlenOaks Hospital registered nurse Mercedes Bentley. The hospital offers free blood pressure checks monthly at the Glendale Heights Center for Senior Citizens.

      Joseph Lee of Glendale Heights has his blood pressure checked by Adventist GlenOaks Hospital registered nurse Mercedes Bentley. The hospital offers free blood pressure checks monthly at the Glendale Heights Center for Senior Citizens.
    Courtesy Adventist Midwest Health

 
By Chris LaFortune
Adventist Midwest Health

Once a month, a group of Adventist GlenOaks Hospital nurses visits the Glendale Heights Center for Senior Citizens and provides free blood pressure screenings.

Many of the 40 or so seniors that come in to have their blood pressure checked are regulars, seeing the nurses every month. They share stories of their families and their friends and catch up on each other's lives, said Monica Koder, interim director of the hospital's medical/surgical, intensive care and respiratory units.

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"It's a good feeling, getting to know them," Koder said. "One gentleman comes in with a bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans and he gives some to each of the nurses.

"When they leave, they look forward to seeing you again next month."

The blood pressure screenings are a free service provided by the hospital to the community. The nurses remain at the center for two hours from 9 to 11 a.m. the first Wednesday of every month and see whoever walks in the door. There is no registration required. All anyone has to do is walk in and roll up a sleeve.

According to the American Heart Association, one in every three adults in the United States -- about 77.9 million people -- has high blood pressure. By 2030, the prevalence of hypertension is expected to increase by 7.2 percent.

"With all signs pointing toward a growing rate of high blood pressure, especially among seniors, we see this free service as an essential for the community," said Bruce C. Christian, chief executive officer at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital. "By being better informed, patients can better manage their medication, diet and health care to keep their blood pressure under control."

Angelita Ramirez of Glendale Heights had her blood pressure card in hand during a recent session at the senior center. She knows her blood pressure is high and she's on medication to keep it under control.

"I like to keep my eyes on how my blood pressure is doing," Ramirez said. "I've worked as a nurse, too, so I understand that it's important."

Adventist GlenOaks Hospital has run the free checks for the past three years, Koder said. While visiting with patients, the nurses will field medical questions and always recommend that seniors consult with their doctors. If they have no doctor, or seek a new one, the nurses can refer them to the hospital, which can provide lists of potential physicians.

Some of the seniors are regular patients at the hospital, so when needed, the nurses have helped in getting lab results and other information to them, That's helped strengthen the relationships with the community.

"We've really adopted these seniors as our family," Koder said. "We don't just take their blood pressure and have them walk out. We spend time to talk and build a relationship."

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