PAOLI, Indiana – Patients with high blood pressure (hypertension) served by Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) clinics will soon be able to receive a free digital blood pressure cuff monitor, according to Yolanda Yoder, MD, SICHC Medical Director. SICHC secured a $159,000 grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to initiate the four-county program.
The grant funds will be used to purchase and distribute the specialty blood pressure cuffs, which can securely transmit health care data through a cellular enabled device, and to purchase the healthcare software required to receive, process and secure the confidential data. The data will help SICHC medical professionals treat high blood pressure remotely.
Eligible SICHC patients receiving treatment for both “controlled” hypertension (blood pressure maintained at 120/80) and “uncontrolled” high blood pressure (blood pressure typically appearing at 140/90 or above) will receive the free digital units.
“With SICHC receiving the HRSA hypertension initiative grant, we will be able to support our patients who have high blood pressure by also offering learning opportunities, heart health education, and provide routine follow-up phone calls between patient visits,” said Cynthia Gillespie, a Certified Community Health Worker (CCHW) with SICHC. “We are working to provide cellular-enabled blood pressure monitors to the majority of our hypertension patients who do not currently have access to in-home self-monitoring devices.”
Once the secure remote cloud software is in place, several blood pressure cuff monitors will initially be distributed. The goal is to create access of blood pressure cuffs for up to 2,600 patients in four counties. Hypertension patients served by six SICHC clinics in Crawford, Martin, Orange, and Washington counties will be eligible to receive the free digital devices.
As Mrs. Gillespie explained, the remote monitoring access will be coupled with patient and community outreach to help people practice sound nutrition that can promote heart health (including cooking classes). SICHC will also provide instruction and information for area residents to learn to practice stress reduction techniques (including mindfulness) to lower stress-induced elevated blood pressure.
Given transportation issues faced by some SICHC patients and the inability for many people to leave their homes due to COVID-19, this remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology will enable doctors and other medical professionals to make a closer and timely review of patient health in the time between scheduled visits. Patients will be able to digitally record blood pressure, which the monitor will then automatically send to a cloud-based platform. The information will then be accessible for providers in the secure Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.
The grant is being administered as part of SICHC’s goal by providing health care services focused on the entire person. Mrs. Gillespie explained that her role as a community health worker (CCHW) “is to help improve access to quality health care, along with improving health outcomes.” She added: “I will follow up with patients who have hypertension between office visits to support them with their health plans, medication management, and be able to connect them to other community recourses – anything from food, housing issues, financial and employment assistance, transportation arrangements to and from doctor appointments, and other health or social services.”
SICHC’s grant for its southern Indiana operations was part of HRSA funding that was also provided to health care institutions in Elkhart, Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, Portage, Richmond and Valparaiso.
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About the Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) nonprofit organization – Well-known as a high-impact health care provider committed to continuity of care, the nonprofit Southern Indiana Community Health Care (SICHC) organization is committed to providing high-quality, comprehensive, community-sensitive health care utilizing Christ-centered principles to medically underserved, rural communities. As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), SICHC serves as a “safety net” provider for vulnerable populations and focuses on increasing access to primary care services for Medicaid and Medicare patients in rural communities. SICHC offers medical care in medically underserved areas of Crawford, Martin, Orange, and Washington counties. SICHC is a member of the National Health Services Corps and receives program funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SICHC offers services to all persons, regardless of the person’s ability to pay. For more information, please visit https://sichc.org/