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University of the Sciences Pharmacy students provided hypertension counseling at the 2017 health fair at Sayre Health Center, which is putting renewed emphasis on patients managing their care.. — SUBMITTED/SAYRE HEALTH CENTER

Persons with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can seek help managing these diseases at the Sayre Health Center.

“We have two separate initiatives going on right now at Sayre,” said Dr. Elizabeth Harris of the University of the Sciences. “The first started with a monthly diabetes class which began about January 2015.”

The monthly diabetes class at the health center, 5800 Walnut St., provides a place where those diagnosed with the condition can discuss such topics as medication, nutrition, diet, exercise and lifestyle management. The hypertension initiative started in June to address the needs of both physicians and patients, she said.

“What was happening was that the patients who were getting identified as having out-of-control blood pressure, our staff were trying to bring them back in early so that they weren’t walking around the streets with these high blood pressures,” Harris said.

This meant patients would have to be scheduled to see their physicians, whose appointment books are typically packed.

The diabetes initiative differs from the hypertension sessions in that it is group-based as opposed to one-on-one appointments, and the blood pressure classes are weekly whereas the diabetes sessions meet monthly.

Dr. Charrell Porter is one of the founders of the diabetes health initiative, which meets every second Wednesday each month.

“The really exciting thing about these classes and the thing that is really different is that about these classes is that the class portion is only 30 minutes,” she said.

The first half-hour of the session is dedicated to taking vitals such as blood pressure, blood sugar and other pertinent patient information such as medications.

“The next 30 minutes of the class is the actual education portion and we actually have a patient sitting in the group and during that time we have a pharmacy student or a physician such as myself present on a topic,” Porter said.

She noted these discussions are intended to provide attendants with as much information as they can about the management of chronic diabetes.

“The last 30 minutes of the class is when we will have an actual physician come in, someone who will actually complement the class that we have given,” Porter said. “The reason that it is so great is because everyone is learning from each other as well as from us and I feel as if that has been a really huge aspect of the class.”

Kiasha Huling is associate director of outreach and social work at Sayre Health Center and described the programs as beneficial.

“We are fortunate to have two wonderful pharmacists from the University of the Sciences, Drs. Porter and Harris, who have worked to provide enhanced health services,” she said.

The doctors have worked with Sayre Health Center to address health disparities from its location in West Philadelphia.

“Hypertension and diabetes are among those health problems and so they have created education classes and specialty clinics to really provide patients with the support that they need to address and overcome these health issues and become more informed,” Huling said.

Those interested in learning more about the classes can call Sayre Health Center at (215) 474-4444.

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