ROCHESTER — The Hispanic Community Center continues its mission to change the health of the Latino community in the northeast neighborhoods — even it means going door to door to check the blood pressure of senior citizens living at Los Flamboyanes.
"(Many) of the seniors throughout the whole city of Rochester are walking around with time bombs," said Albert Algarin, director of the center. "We’re trying to save lives."
The time bombs, Algarin explained, would be the result of high blood pressure that is not managed with medication or diet. To begin tackling that health issue, the center began offering blood pressure clinics Feb. 2 through a collaboration with Rural Metro Ambulance.
When Algarin was only able to wrangle one person to come to the clinic, he took Michael Moreno and Darinel Ferrer — emergency medical technicians originally from Cuba — to the apartments where the center is located and began knocking on doors of senior citizens he knows live in the building.
For Carmen de Morales and Bernardino Burgos, married 41 years, the EMT visit was a welcome one. Both suffer from high blood pressure, although hers is a mild case that was confirmed by the reading taken by Michael Moreno.
Moreno also explained to her the importance of taking regular blood pressure readings — through the planned monthly clinics or with a home machine — and recording them in a log.
Since surviving a cerebral hemorrhage only months earlier, Morales said that she has appreciated the efforts by Algarin to provide these clinics.
"It’s very helpful because a lot of people don’t have a machine at home to check their pressure every day," she added.
Through a series of meetings with Algarin, Rural Metro learned more about the need to provide the Los Flamboyanes senior population preventive care and what it could do to meet those needs, said LaShay Harris.
"It was a no-brainer," she said of working with Algarin. "He needed help with blood pressure clinics and we have the means to help him."
Algarin also has been trying to coordinate a similar partnership with Clinton Family Health Center, which is located near the Hispanic Community Center, he said.
Only scheduling difficulties and an increased workload have kept Roberto Mancebo, Clinton Family Health Center’s practice manager, from formulating a plan for what his office can do to help with Algarin’s initiative.
But it’s an initiative he wholly supports, Mancebo said, especially as it relates to addressing the high incidents of patients who are not managing their high blood pressure and diabetes, which he said is a major challenge for his staff.
"This is where Al’s group comes into play beautifully," Mancebo added. "How we can team up is by having Al’s group help us keep an eye on these seniors that are so noncompliant. That would be a win-win situation. The patients benefit. We benefit. Our mission is finally accomplished."
Nearly five years ago, Algarin opened the center in a small room at Los Flamboyanes before Landsman Co., which owns the apartments, donated the space that he currently occupies there.
Many of the residents at the apartment building and from adjacent neighborhoods turn to Algarin for help with translation, transportation, and connecting to social services or health-care centers. To help these people, he partners with community agencies or organizations for referrals and other resources.
Algarin would like to have a nurse available at the center to record patient histories, because many people have told him that they don’t feel that doctors are able to spend enough time with them, he added.
A written history that could be taken to a doctor’s appointment or faxed ahead of time would benefit both patient and doctor, he noted.
For Rural Metro, building trust with the people who live at Los Flamboyanes also will be mutually beneficial, Harris noted. For those residents who have recently moved in or don’t speak English, the clinics also will provide an opportunity to connect with Rural Metro and let them know that the company employs Spanish-speaking personnel who are available to help them in times of crisis.
"To break down that barrier and eliminate the hesitation of calling (for help), that’s huge," Harris added.