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Athens Opens Dedicated Inpatient Advanced Heart Failure Unit

Athens Opens Dedicated Inpatient Advanced Heart Failure UnitPiedmont Athens Regional has a new dedicated advanced heart failure unit. The Heart Failure Integrated Practice Unit opened in August 2017 on the fourth floor of Prince Tower 1. With 13 beds, the unit serves patients newly diagnosed with heart failure and heart failure patients who need more advanced care.

The unit provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care focused on heart failure by a team that collaborates with providers in the Heart Failure Clinic and other offices to ensure continuity of care after discharge.

“By geographically locating patients with the same condition, we can also co-locate the resources needed for that condition, thus providing higher quality, more efficient care,” says Kate Connell, MPH, NREMT-A, manager of clinical outcomes and performance improvement.

The integrated care team is led by Dr. Catherine Marti, cardiologist and heart failure expert, and includes two advanced practice providers (APPs) specializing in heart failure, hospitalists, dedicated pharmacists, social workers, nurses, a dedicated dietician and a heart failure navigator.

A key goal is providing heart failure patients with the education and resources to manage the disease at home.

“It’s not just what happens in the four walls of the hospital; it’s how we are part of a continuum of care,” says Connell.

Each room has a whiteboard system to record daily weight and fluids and posters with medications. The dedicated heart failure navigator ensures the right patients get routed to the unit, coordinates with the care team for bedside education and ensures a smooth transition home through a series of follow-up phone calls. Each patient is scheduled a follow-up appointment with their heart failure provider within three to five days of discharge and a follow-up appointment with their primary care provider within 14 days of discharge. All patients receiving new medications receive a bedside consult by the dedicated pharmacist within 24 hours before discharge to answer any questions about medications or interactions. Dietary consults are also offered at the bedside.

The entire care team, including the providers, charge nurse and social worker, discuss the care plan with each patient and their family in daily bedside rounds.

The unit aims to reduce readmissions, reduce the length of stay to an average of four days, and increase patient satisfaction. “So far, we’ve had positive responses from our patients,” Connell says.

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