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Why Rochesterians need to 'know their numbers'

Rochester Business Journal
April 5, 2013

The Rochester/Finger Lakes Community Blood Pressure Challenge is the latest example of Rochester's strong history of embracing ways to influence change. Rochester is no stranger to taking on tough issues, and I am confident the blood pressure challenge will yield important results we can apply to future efforts. We harness our incredible academic, philanthropic and cultural knowledge to create and develop increasingly creative approaches to problem-solving; it is in our "regional DNA."
 
This blood pressure challenge is no exception. Our goal is for businesses to encourage employees to get their blood pressure checked just one time and enter their results on www.eatwelllivewell.org. We hope to get enough businesses involved to reach 100,000 participants. Already there are 75 companies signed up, representing more than 87,000 area employees. Employers are uniquely positioned to influence the health of their employees and their families, and when top management and leadership are involved in the process, it permeates the entire organization and, in turn, the general community.
 
The Rochester/Finger Lakes Community Blood Pressure Challenge takes place March 24 to May 18. A joint initiative of the Rochester Business Alliance and the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency as part of their ongoing High Blood Pressure Collaborative, the idea is simply to build awareness and provide education in a friendly, competitive way-to see which organizations can reach the highest levels of participation. Individual employee blood pressure numbers are totally anonymous. There is no sign-in process and therefore no way to connect participants to their numbers.
 
You can't improve what you can't measure. The information tracked in the challenge is the overall blood pressure readings, the number of participants by organization, and the number of normal, pre-hypertensive and hypertensive entries.
 
Although just one blood pressure reading is not a diagnosis and blood pressure results can vary for an individual, screening is an important step in building awareness and sparking important conversations with one's doctor.
 
In Rochester and the surrounding region, an estimated one in three people has high blood pressure. This is a frightening statistic that can result in increased incidence of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. It is clear that there is a health crisis in this nation, requiring a collaborative effort to help people understand the path to better health and navigate the road to wellness. As our population ages and demographics change, we are clearly at a critical juncture in our nation's health history.
 
Employers must seize the opportunity to encourage wellness-using programs and tools to produce tangible, measureable outcomes. By working together, we can make Rochester the healthiest community in America-an exception to the worrisome statistics in the news and a positive example for the rest of the nation to follow. We can make our community and the world heavy and sick, or together we can make them healthy and well. So the challenge I give you is to make your companies and people healthier.
 
Where do you go for more information and to sign up? Please contact Colleen DiMartino at the Rochester Business Alliance (colleen.dimartino@rballiance.com).
 
Danny Wegman is CEO of Wegmans Food Markets Inc.4/5/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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