‘Million Hearts’ Initiative Promotes Heart Health – UBNow: News and Views for UB Faculty

For Susan Grinslade, School of Nursing Community Engagement Coordinator, the Million Hearts initiative is more than just a nifty goodwill slogan.

Since 2016, when she was a member of the African American Health Equity Task Force, Grinslade has been an activist, working to help people in underserved communities become more aware of heart problems. going.

Grinslade University, in partnership with Millennium Cooperative Care, Greater Buffalo United Ministries, and other nursing schools, will recruit students to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Million Hearts Initiative, averaging 50 students at each screening event. performed cardiac health screening on 100 residents from . Those on Buffalo’s East Side might not have been able to take precautions otherwise.

They scheduled mammograms for the women and prostate exams for the men at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. From Spring 2016 through March 2020, the local Million Hearts Initiative worked with the Say Yes Program to host an average of 4-5 screening events per month at churches, community events and Buffalo Public Schools.

Since then, Grinslaid has not looked back.

As Deputy Director of UB’s Institute for Community Health Equity, Grinslade revived the local version of Million Hearts in the Spring 2023 semester after it was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Grinslade, other nursing teachers, and their students, with the help of Buffalo United Ministries, the UB Institute for Community Health Equity, and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, conduct health screenings primarily at churches and community health events. continued.

“Our goal in starting this community activity was to test the cardiovascular health risks of the local population,” Grinslade explains. “By leveraging interdisciplinary health students, we were able to provide health education on topics such as blood pressure, weight, exercise, nutrition, and review of current medications.”

Here are the facts that Grinslade says motivated her to reach out to her community and provide health education and guidance:

  • More than 14.3% of the population of Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls (158,000 out of 1.1 million) live below the poverty line.
  • In Erie County, there is a wide disparity in health status between white residents and residents of color. This situation has become even more pronounced as COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted black and dark-skinned communities not only in Erie County, but across the United States.
  • Even before the pandemic, Black Buffalo residents had a life expectancy 5.4 years less than white residents.

“The feedback from the participants has been very positive,” says Grinslade. “Students expressed how important it was to be able to interact with members of the community who were not like them, and provided opportunities to interact and learn.” Medical barriers many of the participants faced. ”

Grinslade and her collaborators continue their research this fall semester. The check-up will feature a brief health history, including health insurance, primary care provider, past or current smoking, height, weight, BMI calculation, current blood pressure medication status, and completion of a perceived stress scale . These meetings will be followed by personalized health education to alleviate current health problems, Grinslade added.

Individuals without health insurance or a primary care provider are referred to insurance and primary care clinics on the East Side.

“Students from the pharmacy school will join our effort in the fall,” Grinslade said. “Community participants are encouraged to bring a list of medications they are taking. Pharmacy students provide information and answer questions about specific medications.

Grinslade will also work with the Buffalo Center for Health Equity to launch a new CDC campaign, “LIVE the Beat,” which aims to personalize heart-healthy activities to fit an individual’s lifestyle. .

Students who are already active in Million Hearts are appointed as ambassadors.

“Million Hearts is a great way to reach out to communities that we otherwise would not have reached,” says Sebastian Phillips, a senior in the traditional nursing program.

“I have met a variety of people with rich stories who can help me make up my own decisions and trajectories. It’s had a big impact,” Phillips said.

“Even for the participants themselves, it is clear that they have a problem, and no matter how serious it is, sometimes it is enough for a stranger to talk to them to spur change. Yes, and everyone should be able to have a free, nonsensical discussion about their health.”

Fourth-year nursing student Trunks Cowban, who plans to pursue a career in critical care after graduation, came from a similarly underserved community, so Million Hearts was “very meaningful.” says.

“Each interaction reaffirms my commitment to support others, and the satisfaction that comes from helping individuals take positive steps towards better health is immeasurable,” Corban said. says.

“Essentially, my involvement in this effort sparked a passion for making a positive impact while fostering a greater understanding of the importance of community-led healthcare initiatives.”

Corban cites a “motivational encounter” with a dedicated organizer a few years older than himself, who founded a nonprofit focused on family health.

“Her passion and expertise in making a difference in the lives of these people impressed me and emphasized the importance of patient care and community engagement,” he says.

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