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Front Page - Friday, February 15, 2019

Hospice goes red for women’s heart disease awareness

Hospice of Chattanooga staff and volunteers observe National Wear Red Day 2019, part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women heart disease awareness program. - Photograph provided

Hospice of Chattanooga staff and volunteers wore red Friday, Feb. 1, in observance of National Wear Red Day 2019, part of the American Heart Association’s 15-year-old Go Red for Women heart disease awareness program. The event kicked off American Heart Month.

The monthlong awareness campaign coincides with the unveiling of Hospice of Chattanooga’s Heart Journey Program, a new initiative designed to maximize the quality of life for end-stage cardiac disease patients and their loved ones. Since its launch last fall, the program has treated 23 patients in their own homes, with none of them returning to the hospital.

“One in three women lose their lives to cardiovascular disease, although nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented,” says Tracy Wood, president and CEO of Hospice of Chattanooga. “Hospice of Chattanooga was proud to raise awareness of this threat.”

The Heart Journey Program addresses the medical, psychosocial and spiritual needs of end-stage cardiac patients and those of their loved ones through education, support and treatment.

“We cannot overstate the need for such an essential hospice program like Heart Journey in our community,” says Dr. Greg Phelps, chief medical officer of Hospice of Chattanooga. “Patients experiencing the terminal stages of cardiovascular disease might suffer from a host of painful and disruptive symptoms as they approach the end of their lives.”

The Heart Journey Program offers its patients 24-hour access to a Hospice of Chattanooga nurse seven days a week and a daily assessment by visit or phone. The program provides all necessary cardiac medications and a comfort kit to help patients manage pain, swelling and anxiety in their homes.

Eligibility for the program includes a number of critical conditions, especially Class 4 heart failure, in which the patient cannot undertake any physical activity without discomfort and suffers from symptoms even while resting. Patients experiencing cycles of weight gain or loss, swelling of abdomen or limbs, anxiety, weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath and other increasing symptoms might also be eligible for hospice care.

End-stage patients who suffer from pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension or renal disease might also be eligible for the Heart Journey Program, as might those with histories of cardiac arrest or unexplained losses of consciousness due to drops in blood pressure.

Referrals are accepted by calling Hospice of Chattanooga at 423 892-1533. The goal of the Heart Journey Program is to admit all eligible patients within three hours of receiving the referral.

Source: Hospice of Chattanooga