Jersey City Medical Center hosted an inaugural Red Sari event in late May to focus attention on the South Asian population’s growing risk and incidence of heart disease. The event kicked off a series of health and wellness activities aimed at improving disproportionate heart health outcomes in the South Asian community.
Statistics show that People from South Asia – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka – have a four times greater risk of heart disease than the general population and have a much greater chance of having a heart attack before age 50.
These heart attacks are generally more deadly as compared to any other ethnic group, accounting for nearly one in every three people suffering heart attacks dying before age 65. In India, this is the number one cause of death.
While nobody actually knows why this is such an issue, many doctors point to the fact that South Asians tend to be smokers, and the typical South Asian diet tends to be high in sugar, refined grains, and fatty foods. Many people in this ethnic group are insulin resistant, putting them at risk of diabetes as well.
During the event, Joseph F. Scott, president and chief executive officer of Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) said this was the kickoff for a series of community-outreach initiatives the medical center is coordinating to raise nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle awareness for the South Asian community.
Many guests at the event wore festive red saris, a colorful bandhgala, or jodhpuris to show their support for the cause. The sari, a garment that represents grace, originated in the Indian subcontinent. Event organizers created “Red Sari” as an acronym for Recognize, Educate, Determine, Screening, Advise, React, and Improve.
Pragnesh Gadhvi, an interventional cardiologist at JCMC, said: “Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. This accounts for 30 percent of all deaths. What’s surprising is the disease affects South Asian men and women at a disproportionately higher rate.”
Dr. Gadhvi was an event co-creator. “The risk of cardiovascular disease in the South Asian community is four times greater than the general population worldwide,” he said. “This population accounts for 60 percent of heart disease globally, and they have the highest mortality rates nationwide when compared to other ethnic groups.”
According to recent surveys, Jersey City has a South Asian population of approximately 30,000 residents, one of the most concentrated areas in New Jersey.
JCMC honors EMS professionals
As part of a series of events recognizing Emergency Medical Services Week, Jersey City’s Office of Welcoming Communities held a flag raising ceremony on May 22 and paid tribute to those who help save lives in the city every day.
In his opening remarks, Robert Luckritz, director of JCMC EMT Services, spoke about the increased percentage of lives saved as a result of EMS programs.
“We value the families we serve each and every day. In fact, the Red Sari event launches a special series of heart health programming for the South Asian community.” -- Joseph F. Scott
He said JCMC EMS operates eight paramedic units in the greater Hudson County area, which is almost triple the amount of units required by the state of New Jersey. JCMC EMS has now grown into a service that includes Basic and Advanced Life Support, special operations, neonatal transfers, critical care inter-facility transports, regional EMS communications, and more.
The service responds to about 90,000 calls a year. A large percentage of patients brought in on cardiac issues walk out of the hospital alive. EMS also provides new treatment for drug overdoses, administering nearly 700 life saving treatments last year.
“Jersey City Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the country,” said Councilman Richard Boggiano.
Freeholders also pay tribute to the EMS workers
“It is necessary to recognize the importance of access to such quality emergency care services as it dramatically improves the survival and recovery rate of those who experience sudden illness or injury,” said a resolution passed by the Board of Freeholders. “The Emergency Medical Services has grown to fill a gap by providing important out of hospital care, including preventative medicine, follow-up care, and access to telemedicine.
“The Emergency Medical Services System consists of first responders, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, emergency medical dispatchers, firefighters, police officers, educators, administrators, pre-hospital nurses, emergency nurses, emergency physicians, trained members of the public, and other out of hospital medical care providers.”
The resolution went on to note, “The members of Emergency Medical Services teams, whether career or volunteer, engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance their lifesaving skills so that they may better serve their community. It is appropriate to recognize the value and the accomplishments of Emergency Medical Services providers by recognizing Emergency Medical Services Week in Hudson County.”
Said Luckritz: “EMS Week is an annual opportunity to recognize the incredible contributions that EMS professionals make to their communities each and every day. Jersey City Medical Center is proud of our work as Hudson County’s Advanced Life Services provider, and we look forward to many more years of working with the county and the freeholders to keep Hudson County safe.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.