Monica’s Path to Healing: The Power of Project HOPE

Meet Monica, an inspiring participant in the ongoing research project at Henry J. Austin Health Center called Project HOPE – Hypertension Optimization through Patient Engagement. 

Project HOPE is a program that provides patients with blood pressure monitors that send blood pressure readings directly to their medical records. This allows participants’ blood pressure to be closely monitored by their care team. The program is led by the Research team, and participants in the program work with a clinical pharmacist to find ways to optimize their blood pressure management. Monica has been a participant in Project HOPE for close to a year, having joined in March of 2023. 

“Let the small stuff go. If you let it get to you, it’ll cause your blood pressure to rise.”

Before joining the project, Monica admits to being in denial about her high blood pressure. Ignoring medication and dismissing the danger of her condition, she continued with a poor diet, playfully naming her favorite baker as ‘Little Debbie.’ 

Reality struck when Monica faced the health consequences, discovering she had Stage 4 Kidney failure. Though she received a kidney transplant, Monica didn’t prioritize her own recovery. She went right back to working and taking care of her loved ones.  

It wasn’t until she faced complications, including high blood pressure, headaches, and swelling, leading to a month-long hospitalization, that Monica realized the importance of self-care. 

Project HOPE became her guide, emphasizing the importance of consistent medication and daily blood pressure checks. 

Project HOPE played an important role in empowering Monica to take control of her health. After her transplant failed, the team at HJAHC helped her redefine her health priorities. Monica receives supportive check-in calls from Aleha Cruz, a Pharmacy Community Health Worker, three times a month. 

Now back on the donor list for a second kidney transplant, Monica exclaims, “This year, I’m taking care of ME.” Her new outlook extends to every aspect of her life, from food choices to social situations, emphasizing the transformative impact of understanding her body through blood pressure monitoring. 

Monica leans on her family for support. Her children and fiancé play crucial roles in making sure she stays on top of her medication and blood pressure routine. 

Reflecting on her health journey, Monica shares a profound message, “I never knew how important life was until I had a kidney transplant. If you’re like me – in denial, please listen to your body. Go to the doctor, see your loved ones, and take responsibility. Your health is not to be blamed on others.” 

Her advice is simple yet powerful, “You have to want to live, not just exist.” As a lover of the ocean, Monica looks forward to celebrating her 60th birthday in Costa Rica, embracing life and inspiring others on their own health journeys. 

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