Maui News

American Heart Association Helping Hawaiʻi Clinics To Address Hypertension in Patients

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Through the Adopt-A-Clinic program, this self-monitoring blood pressure machine was given to the Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center in Wailuku to help a patient with hypertension. Photo Credit: American Heart Association

With financial support from Hawaiʻi businesses, the American Heart Association is “adopting” the Hawaiʻi Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to support their efforts to better control hypertension, also known as high blood pressure and the “silent killer,” in their patients. 

Hypertension is when the force of blood flowing through blood vessels is consistently too high. More than 100 million Americans – nearly half of all adults – are living with high blood pressure. Left undetected or uncontrolled, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and other health threats. In 2019, 29% of patients who utilize FQHCs have diagnosed hypertension. 

The numbers are even worse in some areas of Hawaiʻi. On Kauai, 77% of residents have been on high blood pressure medications, according to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Systemʻs 2017 report. This puts those patients at high risk for heart attack and stroke in usual circumstances, but it may put them at even greater risk from complications from COVID-19 if they were to be infected. ​


​“Successful blood pressure management requires people to regularly monitor their blood pressure and respond to changes to keep numbers under control,” said Association Hawaiʻi Division Board President Michael Lui, M.D., a Hawaiʻi Pacific Health neurologist. “Hypertension is known as the ‘silent killer’ but with proper treatment and management, you can control your blood pressure to help you live a long and healthy life. Many individuals are treated at clinics regularly for check-ups and monitoring but getting frequent blood pressure checks is difficult when the health care system is overwhelmed, people are urged to stay home, and not everyone can afford a personal blood pressure monitor. From a neurologist perspective, controlling blood pressure is one of the most important controllable risk factors in preventing stroke.”

​The goal of the American Heart Association’s Adopt-A-Clinic program is to provide equipment, education, training and increase hypertension management in the communities that FQHCs serve. The program empowers patients to manage their hypertension independently from home, as well as reinforce the FQHC’s staff support of those patients.

The American Heart Association’s Adopt-A-Clinic Campaign was chaired by Kelly Sanders, SVP of Operations at Highgate and the late Martha Smith, EVP of O’ahu operations at Hawai’i Pacific Health. Through their volunteer leadership, a number of Hawai’i businesses have agreed to sponsor the Association’s efforts to adopt Hawaiʻi FQHCs throughout the state. Clinics already adopted and their business sponsors include:

  • Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center in Wailuku — adopted by HMSA
  • Bay Clinic, Inc — adopted by ALTRES Inc. 
  • Kalihi-Palama Health Center — adopted by Servco 
  • Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Service — adopted by Hawaiʻi Pacific Health 
  • Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center — adopted by Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center–adopted by Karen and Jeff Deer, Hawaiian Electric, and Nordic PCL/Albert C. Kobayashi, Inc./Rider Levett Bucknall
  • Waikiki Health — adopted by Highgate
  • Wahiawā Center for Community Health — adopted by Bank of Hawaii Foundation
  • Waimānalo Health Center — adopted by First Hawaiian Bank
  • West Hawaii Community Health Center — adopted by Stanford Carr Development

“As co-chairs of the American Heart Association’s 2021 Heart Ball, the late Martha Smith and I felt it was important to pivot from the traditional gala event, which couldn’t be held during the pandemic, and work with Hawaiʻi’s business community to support the Association while finding a way to help those most in need,” Sanders said. “The Adopt-a-Clinic campaign helped us achieve that goal.”

HMSA President and Chief Executive Officer Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S. said: “We’re proud to support the American Heart Association’s Adopt-a-Clinic initiative, and have pledged our support to Malama I Ke Ola Health Center. This initiative is in line with HMSA’s mission to create a healthier Hawai’i and will help our high-risk population with effective tools for blood pressure monitoring and maintenance.”

Mālia Purdy, PhD, MPH, and programs director at Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center on Maui, said: “The Adopt a Clinic initiative helps us to provide equipment to our patients and empower them so that they are able to closely monitor their own blood pressure and have more control of their health by creating an awareness around activities and foods the affect their blood pressure.”


Clinics still needing adoption include: Hamakua Health Center and Moloka’i Community Health Center. For more information on sponsoring a health center contact Lesli Yano at 808-754-7637 or at [email protected].


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