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Date Updated: Friday, June 17, 2022

WMCHealth and the American Heart Association Combine Forces to Combat Heart Disease and Promote Health Equity in the Hudson Valley

The AHA and WMCHealth will engage in educational and hands on programming that raises heart disease and stroke treatment awareness and prevention

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WESTCHESTER, NY, June 1, 2022 – The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) has joined forces with the American Heart Association (AHA) of Westchester County and the Hudson Valley to advance health equity as it relates to cardiovascular disease and other areas of healthcare where health disparities exist.  Working together, the AHA and WMCHealth will engage in educational and hands on programming that raises heart disease and stroke treatment awareness and prevention, as well equitable health for all.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with one person dying from disease complications every 36 seconds. AHA statistics show ethnic minority and rural populations are among the hardest hit by the condition and the programs developed through the partnership will emphasize efforts in these and other communities.

To help address these issues, the WMCHealth/AHA collaboration will:

  • Convene community conversations to provide education and awareness of key health issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, COVID-19, tobacco use and vaping, mental well-being
  • Promote the Stocking Healthy Pantries program, which encourages the support of community food banks through the donation of healthy-choice food options
  • Support the annual Heart Walk where members of the community come together to demonstrate their commitment to their health and to honor or remember loved one with heart disease or stroke

WMCHealth has a long history of advocacy for healthcare equity and overall wellness. For example, in the network's role as the Hudson Valley Region HUB in New York State's Regional Vaccine Network, WMCHealth led a group more than 300 hospitals, healthcare organizations, community associations and others to ensure the fair and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the region.

"You want to be aggressive and proactive when treating individuals who are at risk of developing heart disease. This is critical in disadvantaged populations where cardiovascular diseases often develop earlier in life," said Julio Panza, MD, Director of Cardiology, Westchester Medical Center. "Working with the AHA we hope to educate individuals with the most up-to-date and critical information to help them minimize the risks associated with heart disease before it has a chance to strike."

"Both organizations share a common mission of addressing the cardiovascular needs of the people we serve and finding ways to improve cardiovascular health in all ages," said Michael Gewitz, MD, Executive Director, and William Russell McCurdy, Physician-in-Chief of WMCHealth's Maria Fareri Children's Hospital and a member of the board of directors of the American Heart Association in Westchester County. "We have found a way to put that mission into action, and we look forward to lowering high blood pressure rates and relieving food insecurity in Westchester and the Hudson Valley, and to celebrating the resulting improvement in health that we believe will come from those steps. It is a wonderful step for the people of the Hudson Valley that the AHA and WMCHealth have come together to advance these endeavors."

About Westchester Medical Center Health Network

The Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) is a 1,700-bed healthcare system headquartered in Valhalla, New York, with 10 hospitals on eight campuses spanning 6,200 square miles of the Hudson Valley. WMCHealth employs more than 12,000 people and has nearly 3,000 attending physicians. The Network has Level I, Level II and Level III trauma centers, the region's only acute care children's hospital, an academic medical center, several community hospitals, dozens of specialized institutes and centers, skilled nursing, assisted living facilities, homecare services and one of the largest mental health systems in New York State. Today, WMCHealth is the pre-eminent provider of integrated healthcare in the Hudson Valley.

For more information about WMCHealth, visit or follow WMCHealth at or

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century.

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