Page 25 - Christiana Care Health System Focus September 2018
P. 25

| Extraordinary People
 Blood Pressure Ambassadors reach milestone of 10,000 neighbors screened
For three years, Cynthia Latty has been a dedicated Blood Pressure Ambassador, volunteering her time to go into the community and screen individuals who may not know they have hypertension, a condition that
Tcontributes to strokes and heart attacks.
 rained by Christiana Care, Blood Pressure Ambassadors have screened more than 10,000 people, primarily African-Americans who
are at higher risk for hypertension.
The program was launched in 2011 by Christiana Care’s Chief of Cardiac Surgery and W. Samuel Carpenter III Distinguished Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery, Ray Blackwell, M.D.
Latty felt drawn to help — never thinking that she would become one of the many people who learned they have high blood pressure through the program.
“I have a heart for the Blood Pressure Ambassadors’ mission and for my commu- nity,” Latty said. “Knowledge truly is power because when people learn they have hyper- tension they can do something about it.”
Latty, 59, volunteers regularly at screenings at Wilmington Hospital. She also works as a commercial cleaner and is an ordained minister, serving as a chaplain at a nursing home.
“You don’t have to be a nurse to become a Blood Pressure Ambassador,” said Candyce M. Norris, the program’s project manager. “All you need is the desire to help your community.”
One day when Latty was volunteering, she didn’t feel well. “I kept having headaches, not feeling good, and I brushed it off because I have had migraines,” she said.
A nurse who was working with the volunteers suggested Latty have her blood pressure checked. “We did and my blood pressure was sky high,” she said. “I made an appointment with my doctor who immediately put me on medication.”
Typically, there are no physical symptoms for hypertension.
Christiana Care Blood Pressure Ambassador Cynthia Latty checks volunteer David Dimino’s blood pressure at Wilmington Hospital at a regularly scheduled screening at Wilmington Hospital in June.
“They call high blood pressure the Silent Killer, so do not assume you are healthy just because you don’t feel sick,” said
Dr. Blackwell, who also chairs the Blood Pressure Ambassador Advisory Committee. “By taking screenings directly to the com- munity, more people are being diagnosed and receiving the treatment they need to keep their hypertension under control.”
Latty has a family history of high blood pressure, so she knows firsthand the dam- age that hypertension can do. Her grand- mother and two uncles suffered strokes.
“My diagnosis scared me so bad that I began to take my health seriously,” she said. “I am very blessed that I learned I had a problem before something bad happened to me.”
She is taking medication as prescribed by her doctor and has embraced healthy life- style choices. She is working out four days a week and plans to run two 5k races in
the next few months. She has given up soda and drinks water, instead. She has cut back dramatically on fried foods and sweets.
“I gave up my ice cream. Now, I just have a little frozen yogurt,” she said. “I’ve lost a few pounds, and I feel better all the way around.”
strong, the ambassadors do screen-
aunched in 2011, the Blood Pressure Ambassadors began with a handful of volunteers. Now more than 120
ings at Wilmington Hospital, ShopRite
on the Riverfront, Claymont Library and Wilmington Library, as well as churches and social gatherings. They also help people who don’t have insurance or a primary care provider to get connected to care.
“They are compassionate and caring people who have a commitment to their community,” Norris said. “If there’s a fair or a festival going on, odds are a Blood Pressure Ambassador is there.” 
 Learn more, get involved Visit or e-mail FOCUS • SEPTEMBER 2018 23

   23   24   25   26   27