Awareness begins by taking the first step, but one health system is prepared to go the whole mile.
On Thursday, February 1, Montefiore Medical Center kicked off American Heart Month with their annual ‘Montefiore Mile’ at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart & Vascular Care.
The circuit, which is marked by red signs with hearts, takes all participants around the first floor of the facility a quarter mile at a time.
The Monte Mile is marked in the hallways year round and is frequented at least once a day by administrators, staff, patients and doctors alike.
“I usually do two miles a day everyday, but today I decided to join the group,” said Adriana Rivera, a secretary for the kidney transplant section, after she completed her mile.
“It makes me feel amazing knowing that I’m helping the hospital be part of a bigger mission.”
Some walked the halls at a leisurely pace, laughing and smiling the whole way through.
Others sped through the route, breaking into a sweat to get the most from the Monte Mile, while they had the time to. After all, working at a health system is no easy feat.
“I’m a transporter, so I do more than a Monte Mile, number one,” said Carlos Alvarez, as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“I’ve been participating in this for 13 years and it’s important because it shows the hospital is united for the same cause.”
Despite the fun and camaraderie among participants, the health system said there is still more work to be done.
Heart disease, in particular, continues to be the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Out of all the boroughs in New York City, the Bronx is notoriously infamous for having the highest rates of poor health outcomes in an industry with continuous need.
“We have an incredible challenge,” said Dr. Mario Garcia, co-director of the Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart & Vascular Care and professor and chief of the division of cardiology at Montefiore and Einstein.
“Despite the limitations, we have one of the lowest mortality rates from heart and one of the highest management rates of atrial fibrillation in the nation.”
In January and now in February, the city’s hospitals and medical facilities have increasingly been frequented because of the widespread flu outbreak, which has made health systems like Montefiore busier.
“They don’t have access to every wonderful place, they have access to one wonderful place,” said Dr. Steven M. Safyer MD, President and CEO of Montefiore Medicine.
“We should be supporting them so everyone gets the same kind of care whether or not you’re from a higher economic status.”
Though heart month is every month for Montefiore, according to the health system, the list of events for February continues with mindful meditation on Wednesdays and community lectures on high blood pressure every other Tuesday.
For more information on these events, visit Montefiore’s main website.
For information on American Heart Month and to help spread awareness and support the campaign, visit heart.org.