JCMC aims to reduce readmissions with free CHF clinic


Dr. Vijay and Julia Bates

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – It’s one of the most complicated problems in health care:  preventable readmissions. When a patient is discharged from the hospital but returns within 30 days, it’s known as a readmission, and it’s generally a sign that the patient doesn’t have access to needed services in the community.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) patients are among the most likely to be readmitted.  Roughly one out of every three CHF patients at Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC) comes back to the hospital within 30 days, due largely to socioeconomic reasons.

In an effort to turn around that trend, Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) has opened a new Congestive Heart Failure Clinic at JCMC.

The free clinic is located on the lower level of The Heart Hospital on the back side of JCMC and will focus on education, medication reconciliation and helping patients monitor their condition.

“This is a service to the community, and our goal for the first year is to reduce our total congestive heart failure readmissions by 5 percent,” said Ed Stump, assistant vice president for cardiovascular and pulmonary operations at MSHA. “We want to help these patients transition from the hospital and learn to manage their disease.”

The clinic will also help find assistance programs, such as medication assistance, and tap into many other community resources. The staff won’t dispense medications but will concentrate on assessing the patient’s situation and helping secure both the proper education and the right treatment.

CHF is treated primarily with a combination of medication and diet. Bad health habits are ingrained in the lifestyle of many of the repeat readmissions. Some patients may not have enough education about CHF; others don’t understand or follow through with their medication plans, or don’t know what is covered by their insurance.

“There is a very big need for this in the community,” said Julia Bates, a nurse practitioner who helped create the care model for the clinic. “My job will first be to find out what kinds of social and financial issues they have, and if they understand about congestive heart failure. Many family practices don’t have enough time to focus on this, so we will provide as much education as the patient needs.”

The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. An open house celebration for the clinic will be held Friday, Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Refreshments and door prizes will be offered. For more information, call 423-431-5920 or email BatesJV2@msha.com.

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