At a Corbin Rotary Club meeting last week, Director of Pharmacy at Baptist Health Corbin, Mr. Cliff Niemeier, spoke about the recent edition of a brand-new heart failure clinic to the hospital.
Opening about six weeks ago, Niemeier said of the new clinic, “It is conveniently located inside the hospital, and is a partnership between the Baptist Health Cardiology medical group and the hospital itself.”
As for what is offered there, Niemeier explained that a highly trained team of specialists will be on hand to assist patients with a variety of services including managing their medications, offering support with nutrition, lifestyle and dietary plans, and also providing one-on-one
education about heart failure and its symptoms.
So, what exactly is heart failure?
“There are a couple of different types of heart failure,” Niemeier said. “It could involve the heart not pumping out enough blood, or maybe not bringing the blood in.”
As for symptoms that could indicate that a person is dealing with heart failure, those include: Fluid retention, weight gain, shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing, appetite loss, tiredness, or an abnormally fast or slow heartbeat.
Niemeier went on to explain that clinics like this one are becoming increasingly important, because heart failure is actually a leading cause for admission to hospitals in many parts of the country, including ours. Not only that, but he said it is also a leading cause for re-admissions, with about 25% of patients being re-admitted based on national statistics.
“This is a progressive, chronic disease,” said Niemeier. “So, it is very important to maintain adequate care.”
Right now the hope is for this new clinic to see a patient within 48-72 hours after they are discharged from the hospital. The initial appointment will include a check of vital signs and weight, probably a blood draw, and a six-minute walk test will likely be administered. From there, weekly follow-up appointments may be necessary, depending on the patient’s individual needs.
Visits to the clinic are meant to be maintained in conjunction with regular visits to primary care providers.
In the future, the hope is begin utilizing more remote patient monitoring devices in the clinic. Dr. David Worthy, who was also present at the Rotary Club meeting, elaborated on that by saying, “These clinics are being developed all around the country. What we really need to be doing is thinking creatively about how we can keep people safe, keep them appropriately treated, and keep them out of the hospital.”
“In these clinics we are applying evidence-based interventions, and we are deploying new technology. What is happening at Baptist Health is really part of a much bigger movement.”
While this new Baptist Health heart failure clinic is mainly focusing on seeing patients who have been discharged from the hospital with heart failure, the hope is to begin partnering with primary care physicians at some point in the future in order to receive additional referrals.