Dover, N.J. (August 1, 2016) Zufall Health Center has been named a Million Hearts Hypertension Control Champion by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its high rate of success helping patients control blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Only 18 medical providers nationwide – ranging from private and public practices to large health care systems – were awarded this prestigious designation. Each of the Champions achieved blood pressure control for at least 70 percent of their adult patients with hypertension.
“This achievement is especially gratifying given that Zufall’s patients are largely from low-income and minority populations and face tremendous barriers to achieving optimal health,” said Eva Turbiner, the health center’s president and chief executive officer. “Many of them can’t always afford prescribed medications and usually don’t have easy access to specialists they may need to see.”
For Dr. Rina Ramirez, Zufall’s chief medical officer, the award is a testament to the hard work of the health center’s outstanding clinical team.
“We are honored that the successful strategies and determination of our providers and support staff have been recognized,” said Ramirez. “They are truly Champions whose exemplary performance every day ensures that our patients receive the highest quality health care possible.”
The Million Hearts Challenge is a national initiative launched in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. By recognizing the Champions’ performances and showcasing their best practices, the CDC hopes to educate other health care professionals throughout the country.
“Clinicians are our first line of defense against the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by high blood pressure each year,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “Replicating these successes can save even more lives.”
Ramirez attributed the health center’s accomplishment to a variety of innovative approaches that harmonize with its patient-centered philosophy of health care delivery.
“We make hypertension control a daily priority with all patients,” she said. “Our coordinated, team-based care is supported by evidence-based treatment guidelines, and strategic use of health information technology and electronic health records. Patients also receive counseling on medications, nutrition, and lifestyle behavioral changes. “
In addition, Zufall stays engaged with patients and develops trusting relationships.
“We recently had a very sick patient with a dangerous blood pressure reading of 210/140 who was highly reluctant to come to our office and be treated,” Ramirez recalled. “ It took time and patience, but after getting him to regularly visit, we helped lower his pressure to a much healthier 137/82 and changed his life.”
According to the CDC, nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure. Only half of them have it under control, putting them at greater risk of developing heart disease or stroke – two of the leading causes of death in the U.S.
“I’m so proud of Dr. Ramirez and our staff for taking on this Challenge and setting an example for hypertension control that the rest of the country can emulate,” said Turbiner. “I’m also proud of our patients’ hard work and cooperation without which we couldn’t have won this award.”