In the words of a congestive heart failure patient, enrollment in the St.
Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program is “life changing.”
This past spring, Ramona (at left) came into the ER and was admitted for
Coronary Heart Failure. “I had gained weight and I couldn’t
walk or breathe,” recalls Ramona, who is a former smoker and diabetic.
When she was admitted to the hospital, her glucose level exceeded 400.
She hadn’t been feeling well but hadn’t gone to see a doctor.
Before leaving the hospital, Ramona and family members met Heart Failure
Program Coordinator Sarah Atchison, R.N., BSN, PCCN (Above, left). Sarah
taught Ramona about changes she could make to her diet, and gave her literature
to take home. She took the advice to heart. Four months later, Ramona’s
blood sugar was down to 133, and she no longer required insulin. She has
lost 70 pounds, including a lot of fluid, and with a portable oxygen device
is able to take walks and do Tai Chi. She’s back to playing Bingo.
Ramona is looking forward to rejoining the choir at the Tustin Senior
Center, and attending her 55-year class reunion in Wyoming.
She credits Sarah with giving her tools to better health. “I follow
a diet low in calories and sodium. Before I ate too many TV dinners and
ate a lot of salt and sugar. Now I enjoy fish, chicken and turkey –
but just the white meat. And I love fruit,” she says, adding, “I’m
glad I’m still here!”
The mission of the St. Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program is to equip
patients and families with the tools necessary to manage heart failure
so that they may live a good quality of life and minimize time spent in
Goals for the program include:
- Enroll those patients who have advanced-stage heart failure, known non-compliance
issues or are deemed “high risk” for hospitalization
- Facilitate the utilization of interdisciplinary services such as Home Health,
Palliative Care and Hospice.
- Heart Failure Nurse serves as a liaison between patient and physician in
order to solve problems and promote health in a collaborative manner.
- Educate nursing staff throughout St. Joseph Hospital to provide evidence-based
care for Heart Failure patients.
- Provide community education and outreach.
With a physician’s order and while the patient is still hospitalized,
he or she is enrolled in the Heart Failure Program. At the first visit,
an assessment is made which includes past medical history, a review of
systems, history of present illness, medication reconciliation and vital
signs. Education, a hallmark of the program, begins immediately, with
spoken and written information provided on a low-sodium diet, smoking
cessation, activity/exercise, daily weights, medications, symptoms of
heart and failure and knowing when to call the doctor. Homework is given,
based on individualized goals, and instructions for follow-up communication
with the patient’s physician or clinic. Appointments are made for
follow-up for continued monitoring and education.
A St. Joseph Heart Failure Discussion Group meets the fourth Monday of
every month from 11 am to 12 pm in the St. Joseph Hospital Outpatient
Pavilion board room, where clinicians and patients talk about lifestyle
modification and education on matters pertaining to heart health.
“The Heart Failure program addresses the specific needs of patients
who need additional support,” states Atchison. “The care they
receive is evidence-based, following ACC guidelines.”
For further information about the Heart Failure program please call Clinical
Coordinator Sarah Atchison at (714) 744-8858.
"Having previously undergone six open-heart surgeries, I wasn't
expecting too many differences during lucky number seven, although the
location changed and the doctor line-up was different.
"A month earlier, I had an angiogram. The results led to the conclusion
that surgery would need to be performed within the calendar year. I was
promptly set-up with my surgeon-to-be, and I was very confident in him
after we met.
"During the hospital pre-op appointment I quickly knocked out the
required chest x-ray and blood draws. The hospital staff did a phenomenal
job of educating me on my condition, what the current procedure was going
to correct, what past procedures had corrected, and the future prognosis
of my condition. They walked me through the recovery process, literally,
as I toured the main entrance to the hospital, the pre-op area, intensive
care, and the cardio-renal floor. They even discussed hotel options for
my mother, who flew out to be with me. After spending 3.5 hours at the
hospital, I felt in control of the situation, which relieved any remaining
stress I may have had.
"On surgery day, everything went just as discussed. Later that day
when I woke up from surgery I felt great, relatively speaking. That was
a surprise because usually coming out of heart surgery I felt like a train
wreck. The surgery went very smoothly and while recovery was tough, it
wasn't the same degree as I had experienced in the past.
"I saw both the surgeon and cardiologist regularly throughout my week
of recovery in the hospital. When it was time to check out I felt good;
I didn't feel rushed or hurried to leave the hospital. The medical
team helped me to understand my limitations and when the limitations would
be lifted as well as any symptoms to watch for during my recovery at home.
"For any patients dealing with members of the Adult Congenital Heart
Center at St. Joseph Hospital I would tell them that they will definitely
receive excellent care from confident and knowledgeable medical professionals
who are on the leading edge. Every step of my open-heart experience, from
diagnosis, to pre-op, during surgery, and post-op, the Adult Congenital
Heart Team at St. Joseph's took excellent care of me. "