For the past three years, we've been a sponsor of the StarkFresh Corridor Farmers Market, offering — among other things — free blood pressure checks.
One week at the market, which runs from July through October, Mercy volunteer Virginia Neutzling, RN, did a blood pressure check on a 50-year-old woman who happened to stop by. After recognizing the pressure was high, Virginia sent the woman to see a primary care provider at Mercy at St. Paul Square, located just across the street from the market. From there, she was sent to the Mercy Emergency Department and admitted for medication changes.
According to Tracia Wellman, LSW, coordinator of Mercy Mission Outreach, the woman’s mother soon returned to the farmers market to thank staff members.
"She told us we had saved her daughter's life," Tracia says. "Then, several weeks later, the woman herself came back to thank Virginia, and the two had a tearful but joyous conversation. This is a perfect example of why preventive care is such an important part of the hospital's community outreach initiatives."
With its fresh produce and local products, the weekly farmers market attracted area residents of all ages. In addition to blood pressure checks, Mercy staff and volunteers discussed routine and urgent care, mental health, and how to cultivate healthy habits and make better health care decisions.
"Many who came to the market were at risk due to low income and chronic health conditions," adds Tracia. "Over the course of the season, as more and more people began attending regularly, we continued to provide this type of valuable self-management support. It was the perfect opportunity to connect with people and impact lives on a weekly basis."