Traverse City Record-Eagle


July 9, 2014

Al Pilong: Heart Failure Clinic helps residents stay out of hospital

TRAVERSE CITY — “Population health management” is a new term that hospitals are becoming familiar with as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

In October 2012 the federal government asked hospitals to do a better job caring for patients who suffer heart attacks, congestive heart failure, or pneumonia. If these patients return to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, we lose reimbursement for our services.

We now are responsible for not only treating patients within our walls, but ensuring that when they go home, they will receive the appropriate attention they need to bring about a continued positive outcome.

Health care experts call this “population health management.”

One great thing that Munson Medical Center has done to meet the needs of the region’s residents who suffer with severe heart issues is to start a weekly Heart Failure Clinic. Located within the Daniel and Debra Edson Cardiac Diagnostic Suite, the Heart Failure Clinic treats patients with advanced heart failure who are at high risk for hospitalization, disease progression, and death.

Some of these patients come to the clinic after discharge from one of our heart center floors. Others are referred by a cardiologist, or family physician. These patients have very poor heart function with just 22 percent of their blood leaving the heart with each beat. An average heart ejects 55 percent or more of the blood with each beat.

Since opening in December 2012, this clinic has served more than 160 patients. Nationally, the 30-day readmission rate for heart failure is 24 percent. For patients enrolled in our Heart Failure Clinic, the rate is nine percent.

Cardiologist and Clinic Medical Director Dino Recchia, M.D., FACC, and nurse practitioner Nancy Harris, M.S.N., F.N.P., CHFN, lead a multi-disciplinary team to address patients’ needs in a holistic way. The team includes a specialized heart failure nurse, pharmacist, department assistant , and other disciplines such as a dietitian, social worker, exercise physiologist, and palliative care specialist as needed.

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