August 18, 2018
CHI pharmacies keep blood pressure in check
As the Florence CHI Health Pharmacy has learned, a simple blood pressure check can change the course of a patient’s life.
Like the man who walked in for the first time after multiple visits to the emergency room due to uncontrolled hypertension — but now stops by for a weekly blood pressure checks, understands the risks of high blood pressure and has yet to pay another visit to the ER.
Or the mother who unknowingly had such elevated blood pressure that the pharmacists referred her to make an appointment with her primary care doctor, where she was later diagnosed with hypertension. Now, her blood pressure is well under control.
Extending the Reach of Health Care Providers
The pharmacy has heard countless stories like these since partnering with the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) to develop a self-monitored blood pressure program.
Through the program, CHI pharmacists ask if patients would like their blood pressure checked any time they come in for a prescription. As a community pharmacy, the blood pressure program accepts walk-ins and even people who aren’t CHI Health patients.
“A lot of times if someone’s blood pressure isn’t under control, they’re not going to make an appointment at the clinic every time. Or if they have it checked at the grocery store, they don’t know what to do afterward,” said Celeste Ehrenberg, DCHD’s community health planner.
The program makes it easy by sending CHI patient information directly to their health care provider so they know what’s going on with their patients in between office visits. If the patient is not currently connected with a CHI healthcare provider, the pharmacist will provide referrals to health care resources.
If a patient’s blood pressure is considered elevated, the pharmacy has a protocol in place to get them the help they need. Everyone enrolled in the program also receives an educational packet about the importance of controlling their blood pressure, and tips for improving it — like reducing sodium intake, exercising more and consuming alcohol in moderation.
“It’s really opened up this whole world of truly uplifting and supporting the community-based pharmacist as a physician extender,” Ehrenberg said.
Flipping the Script on Chronic Disease
Ultimately, the goal is to help Douglas County residents reduce their chances of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease.
Even slightly high blood pressure affects the organs and increases one’s risk of heart disease or stroke. Known as the “silent killer,” hypertension can quickly creep up on someone since high blood pressure has very few symptoms.
After successfully launching at the Florence location, two other CHI Health pharmacies in Douglas County have replicated the blood pressure program within two years, with the likelihood of eventually expanding to all CHI Health pharmacy locations.
One blood pressure check at a time, Douglas County residents are living healthier, happier lives.