News @ VCU School of Pharmacy
MeadWestvaco and School of Pharmacy sponsor Million Hearts VA effort
MeadWestvaco Corporation, in partnership with the VCU School of Pharmacy, offered free blood pressure checks to all MWV Richmond headquarters-based employees as part of the Million Hearts VA campaign.
MWV, a global leader in packaging and packaging solutions, is the first company in the Commonwealth and VCU School of Pharmacy is among the first health professional schools to support the campaign sponsored by State Health Commissioner Karen Remley. Remley recently pledged Virginia's support for the national Million Hearts campaign by challenging Virginia organizations, health-care providers and individuals to conduct 1 million blood pressure checks during the month of May.
Bruce V. Thomas, senior vice president and president, MeadWestvaco
Healthcare, with (from left) Amy Rudenko, VCU School of Pharmacy associate
professor; Stephanie Spencer, student pharmacist; Alix Pandolfino, Community
Pharmacy Practice Resident; and Lauren Lakdawala and Lauren Wyatt, student
pharmacists. / Photo by Billy Bogdziewicz
As part of Million Hearts VA, VCU School of Pharmacy entered into a community engagement partnership with MWV, providing free blood pressure checks as well as education regarding the importance of active employee participation in preventive health initiatives. During the two-day event, 19 pharmacy faculty, residents and student pharmacists measured the blood pressure of almost half of MWV employees (358 of 800) and counseled them on the value of reducing salt intake, exercise and smoking cessation to help keep blood pressure under control.
The measured blood pressures, which were collected in a de-identified manner, ranged from 82/62 to 185/110. About one in five employees screened had high blood pressure readings. These results are lower than the national average of about 35 percent of adults and 24 percent of all people in the United States who have high blood pressure, but they still speak to the value of preventive screenings. The importance of frequently and correctly monitoring blood pressure and adhering to prescribed medication(s) was stressed to individuals who indicated they used blood pressure medications.
In addition to the Million Hearts Fact Sheets, employees received helpful tools such as the Script Your Future wallet card to help track medications. Gary R. Matzke, the school's associate dean for clinical research and public policy, was encouraged by the large proportion of employees who expressed interest in knowing what action they could take to improve their blood pressure values and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Janet Wright, executive director of the Million Hearts initiative, noted the importance of collaboration. “It’s so important,” she said, “for individuals to know they can work with their pharmacist – as well as their doctor, nurse or other health worker – to improve blood pressure control.”
The national initiative, led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, set a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the United States over the next five years. In the context of chronic disease, such as hypertension, it has been clearly established that medication non-adherence leads to unnecessary disease progression and complications, avoidable hospitalizations, premature disability, a lower quality of life and even death.
SOP student pharmacist Holly Bourne checks the
blood pressure of Jodi Fuller, director of global
benefits for MeadWestvaco. / Photo by Billy Bogdziewicz
“We know from our research that pharmacist counseling is an important and complementary success factor when implementing proven adherence interventions such as our adherence-enhancing packaging,” said Sandy Eyerly, senior marketing manager for MWV Healthcare. “Adherence packaging can play an important role in assisting pharmacists and health care providers in enhancing quality of care.”
Bruce V. Thomas, senior vice president and president, MWV Healthcare and Innovation, said, “MWV recognizes the commissioner’s warning that Americans suffer more than two million heart attacks and strokes each year, and we are pleased to support her effort to conduct one million blood pressure checks this month.
“In addition to offering free blood pressure checks, MWV is committed to educate their employees through partnerships such as this one with the VCU School of Pharmacy, on the importance of patient medication adherence, which is critical when it comes to managing chronic disease such as hypertension.”