Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a disease that does more than costs lives. It also affects quality of life for millions of sufferers and is responsible for millions in medical care costs—especially charges related to hospital readmissions. Prairie Heart Institute Southern Illinois Healthcare is working to provide CHF patients with long, productive lives while lowering readmissions and costs associated with the condition.
Nabil Al-Sharif, M.D. & Congestive Heart Failure
Herrin Hospital Home to Cardiac Center
On February 25, 2013 a new Cardiac Management Center located at Herrin Hospital will be fully operational, and will feature a staff of providers including mid-level providers and specialty nurses who will follow up with recently-discharged CHF patients to answer questions, provide follow-up support and encouragement.
Prairie Cardiologist Dr. Nabil Al Sharif says that treatments for congestive heart failure nationwide total nearly $40 billion each year. He adds that 500,000 new heart failures will be diagnosed this year. Even in southern Illinois, the problem is significant. More than 2,500 patients were treated at Southern Illinois Healthcare facilities for heart failure in the last 11 months. Many of those patients made repeated visits to area hospitals.
Reducing Readmission Rates
“There are high readmission rates for CHF and we’re trying to prevent that,” Vicki Miller RN, who coordinates the Cardiac Management Center, says. “We’re working on the inpatient side to make sure we’re giving optimum care to our chest pain patients and then this new program will touch on all of the areas that tend to bring them back to the hospital.”
“This will be care after the care,” Miller explains. “It’s like a safety net dedicated to a population who we have found really needs some extra attention.”
Supporting Congestive Heart Failure Patients
“We’ll go over records, review their dietary and fluid restrictions with them and check on their medications,” Miller says. “We’ll look at their medication list to see if they understand and even if they were able to get their prescriptions filled. It’s all designed to keep them out of the hospital.”
Miller says the programs will involve family members and other support people, as well. For Al Sharif, the follow-up will be key to successful treatment of CHF.
Al Sharif says traditionally, 27 to 30 percent of CHF patients are readmitted to the hospital within a month. He hopes the efforts of the Cardiac Management Center will drastically reduce that number across all SIH hospitals.
The center will be staffed by nurses and mid-level providers who will work with recently discharged CHF patients to make sure they are following prescribed protocols and getting both the medications and follow-up appointments necessary.
“We believe that by educating these patients and having follow-up with them, we can reduce readmissions by 50 percent,” Al Sharif says.