Congestive Heart Failure Program keeps patients on track

July 03, 2006

Dr. Vivian-Sue Penn says the Congestive Heart Failure Telephonic Program at New Hanover Regional Medical Center saved her life. She was 75 when she had a massive heart attack, but surviving the heart attack was just the beginning. Like others with congestive heart failure, she learned that what happens after you leave the hospital can be just as important as what happens in it.

“I was beginning to feel crippled and didn’t know what to do,” said Penn. “I had so many questions, it was scary.”

Fortunately, the answers were easy to find. Penn was automatically enrolled in NHRMC’s free Congestive Heart Failure Telephonic Program. Soon after her discharge from the hospital, a nurse case manager called to see how she was doing. The calls continued for months as Penn worked through questions about medication, diet and exercise. “The case manager bolstered me,” she said. “I looked forward to her calls. It was like having another sister or mother to care for you.”

Through the program, patients learn how to take control of their health and recognize the signs of trouble so they can see their physician before requiring hospitalization. The success has been dramatic. Those who take part are readmitted less often and, when they are admitted, their stay is generally shorter.

For patients in the late stages of their disease, management of diet and medications may not be enough. The Congestive Heart Failure Partnership with Lower Cape Fear Hospice helps provide those patients with the additional resources they need as they near the end of their lives.

“Many people think of Hospice and immediately think of dying,” said Renee Slater with the CHF Program. “But Hospice and Palliative Care are about living life to the fullest, and living with comfort and dignity. Everyone deserves that.”

For more information about the CHF Telephonic Program, call 1.800.920.2645.

Comparing patients six months before and six months after admission to the Congestive Heart Failure Telephonic Program:

  • 17% decrease in hospital length of stay
  • 76% decrease in readmission rate
  • 45% decrease in the average cost per case