As an 11-year nurse for Sharp HealthCare, Judith Navarrete is no stranger to caring for patients. But as a nurse for Sharp's community health screening program, Judith extends her skills beyond Sharp's walls — and fills an important role for the people of San Diego.
What is your role in the community health screenings?
As one of the program's nurses, I screen community members, for free, to help them gain more knowledge about their health. I start with their height and weight, so I can calculate their body mass index. Then I take their blood pressure, and do the finger stick that measures cholesterol and blood glucose.
What is the goal of these health screenings?
Ultimately we want to see if they are at high, medium or low risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. It's important for people to be aware of where they stand with their health, and take care of issues before it's too late.
Have you had an instance where your screening changed someone's life?
My favorite story is a man who was prompted to lose 40 pounds based on his screening. When he first came in he had a very high blood glucose — in diabetic range. He was inspired to change his diet and exercise routine and came back to see me, 40 pounds lighter. I screened him again, and his blood glucose was in a normal range.
Are there a lot of stories like that?
There are! Not all of them are that extreme, or have to do with blood glucose. Others had high cholesterol or other issues. But once they make lifestyle changes they come in and show improvement.
What is the most common reason people come in?
Many people come in because they feel like they are overweight. But they don't realize how overweight they are. Once we get their numbers, their expression alone shows me how much they care about their health, and how much they want to change it. They need actual numbers first.
What keeps people from coming in?
A lot of people are fearful of the finger prick stick. But it really is gentle, and not something to worry about. Ultimately the screening is about becoming aware of, and taking charge of your health.
What do you like most about your role in these screenings?
I love that we're making a difference by making people aware. One of the biggest things I hear is, "Wow, I didn't know that!" The fact that we're helping people learn about their health, and watching them make improvements to change it is very rewarding.
Learn more about Sharp HealthCare's community health screenings and find an upcoming event near you.