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HomeNewsArchivesNew Health Program Lets Mainland Nurses Monitor St. Croix Residents

New Health Program Lets Mainland Nurses Monitor St. Croix Residents

Dec. 19, 2006 — Residents on the island suffering from high blood pressure now have a new ally in maintaining healthy lifestyles, a computer-monitoring program brought to St. Croix from Howard University.
The Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program (MOTTEP), based at Howard in Washington, D.C., recently began its Telehealth initiative. MOTTEP has brought its technology to the territory in hopes of tackling what program officials consider a problem plaguing many people of color: high blood pressure, a leading cause of kidney failure.
"We are moving from being an awareness program to being an organization of accountability," said Patrice Miles, national MOTTEP executive director. The mission of the program, she said, is "to help people feel better."
The Telehealth Hypertension Program is a revolution in continuing health care. Telehealth is a computer-based program that observes the progress of patients suffering from high blood pressure. Through the use of computer monitors, patients in the territory get seen and treated by nurses at Howard University. Nurses check blood pressure and weight, and answer any questions patients may have right on the spot.
Dr. Clive Callender, a professor of surgery at Howard, founded MOTTEP in 1991. He wanted to understand why minorities were not donating their organs more. What Callender found was a lack of education and a fear of doctors. Face-to-face dialogue proved the most effective approach for changing minds, Miles said.
By 2000, the demand for organs greatly outnumbered the supply, especially in regard to kidneys, according to Miles. The number of people on the transplant list had grown exponentially, she said. MOTTEP organizers decided to revamp their program.
"We wanted to help people better control their blood pressure and diabetes," Miles said. The program began in five areas: Washington, Richmond, Va., Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mi. and St. Croix. "We wanted to see how people respond to this technology in their own communities," Miles said.
St. Croix is "one of the most productive sites" and has been with the program since the early '90s, she said. Local Program Coordinator Lillian Sutherland received the organization's Founder's Award — its highest — in 2001 and has gone "above and beyond" her duties in educating her community, Miles said.
The program needed 300 participants to begin on the island and Sutherland was able to recruit the necessary volunteers for the program in early December. The program will continue until August 2007.
The Telehealth monitors are at five locations: Central Seventh Day Adventist Church, Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital, Plaza Extra East, Ebenezer Methodist Church and the office of Dr. Robert Thomson. Once the project is under way, Sutherland's goal is to "have machines up all over the island, like ATMs."
For more information on how you can participate in the program, contact Lillian Sutherland at 642-2623 or 719-7892, or click here.
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