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The Washington Hospital

Free Program Teaches Patients to Manage Heart Disease
and Enjoy Excellent Quality ofLlife


Patients living with heart disease now have another option in care. The Washington Hospital has introduced the Heart Failure Support Initiative (HFSI), a free program designed to benefit any patient with heart failure. The program teaches patients how to care for themselves, manage their disease on a day-to-day basis and live their lives to the fullest while dealing with their chronic disease.

The program, which is staffed by a case manager and an educator, attempts to minimize any acute episodes of failure that create a cause for hospitalization. "With current statistics indicating that heart failure accounts for three million hospital admissions per year in the United States, there is a great demand for programs tailored to heart failure patients," said Deborah Struth, R.N., director of Cardiology Services at The Washington Hospital.

Once a patient is referred to the program by a nurse or other health professional, the HFSI case manager contacts the patient's primary care physician to get the necessary approval for the patient's participation, introduces the patient to the available services, and enrolls him or her into the program. The case manager then meets with the patient in the comfort and convenience of his or her home; shows a video that explains self-care; provides the patient with a teaching booklet, digital scales, a pill organizer, and a package of 15 visits to the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center; and assesses the home environment in order to give the family custom-tailored advice.

Patients enrolled in the program also have access to a toll-fee telephone number at which they can reach cardiac nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the HFSI staff follows up with patients weekly, initially, and then monthly to assess any additional needs the patient may have.    

Beginning in March, the HFSI will offer a series of six formal classes to educate the patients and families on all levels of heart failure management. A registered nurse who serves as the program's educator will also teach patients on a one-on-one basis. The classes will repeat frequently with the intention that if a patient misses a session, he or she can pick it up later.

The Heart Failure Support Initiative is a program of The Washington Hospital's Cardiac Center of Excellence, which provides a wide range of cardiovascular services, including cardiac catheterization, open heart surgery, cardiac rehabilitation and more.

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Copyright © 2003 by John Fries, Pittsburgh, PA.
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