Blue Hill Memorial Hospital is offering blood pressure screenings at Tradewinds Marketplace on South Street in Blue Hill. The screenings are confidential and free; no appointment is necessary. The next screening is scheduled from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on March 9. Additional clinics are scheduled on April 13 and May 11.
“Our Community Health Needs Assessment and data from throughout our hospital and its practices point to the prevalence of cardiovascular disease in our area,” explains Connie Barrett, RN, who serves as the hospital’s chief nursing officer. "Unfortunately, high blood pressure often times has no symptoms at all,” says Barrett. “With an appropriate diagnosis, our patients know that they have an issue and can take steps toward lowering their blood pressure.” Barrett explains that individuals can often lower their blood pressure by increasing exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eliminating tobacco use, reducing the consumption of alcohol, and managing stress through activities like yoga and meditation. She notes, however, that medication may also be necessary, regardless of lifestyle changes.
Barrett emphasizes the importance of screening to detect potential problems before they become a chronic health issue. “Unfortunately, when left untreated, high blood pressure and related problems bring patients to our emergency department with serious health events. We want to identify those in our community who are at risk for such events, and get them into programs that promote and foster health and quality of life,” she says. An ounce of prevention can be the key to living a long and healthy life.
In addition to conducting blood pressure assessments, Barrett and her team of nurses are sharing information with patients about the hospital’s primary care practices and other relevant services. “Sometimes a patient has high blood pressure but is otherwise healthy,” she explains. “Other times, however, a patient with high blood pressure is also fighting weight issues, tobacco use, depression, heart disease, chronic breathing problems, or other conditions which, together, make lifestyle changes more difficult.” Barrett emphasizes that she and her colleagues are focused on sharing information and encouraging community members to take simple steps toward better health. “We do not want to make people feel guilty; it’s more a matter of asking our friends and neighbors to partner with us to take control of their lives, so that they can enjoy the activities and people that matter the most to them.”
Over time, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital nurses hope to offer additional screenings throughout the hospital’s service area. Barrett notes that the hospital’s Community Advisory Council has been asked to help identify what types of screenings would be most valuable to the region.