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A team approach to treating heart failure

By The Health News Team | October 3, 2023
Physician taking patient's blood pressure

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a serious medical condition, marked by the heart's inability to effectively pump blood throughout the body. This can result in debilitating symptoms, such as breathlessness and congestion.

Addressing this complex condition requires a proactive and comprehensive plan, guided by a team of skilled health care providers. In San Diego’s South Bay, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center’s CHF program delivers leading-edge treatment through a holistic, patient-centered approach that prioritizes patient and caregiver education, family involvement and individualized care.

“Congestive heart failure can be as serious as its name implies, but many of my patients live active, full lives because they take the appropriate steps to manage their condition,” says Dr. Burhan Mohamedali, medical director of heart failure at Sharp Chula Vista. “Our patients do not navigate this condition on their own. There is a multidisciplinary team of experts by their side, which is key to their success.”

A dedicated team makes the difference

Central to the success of this program is its dynamic and diverse team of caregivers. Primary care physicians, cardiologists, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, dietitians, diabetes educators, social workers, discharge coordinators and others collaborate to address every facet of a patient's well-being. This approach underscores the fact that CHF is not merely a physiological disease, but an intricate interplay of medical, emotional and social variables.

Patient and family education is a unique focus of Sharp Chula Vista’s CHF program. Approximately 60% of the hospital’s patients speak Spanish, so it’s essential to eliminate language and cultural barriers that have the potential to stand in the way of quality health care.

Patients and their loved ones are educated on any medication they must take after they leave the hospital, as lapses in taking medication are one of the most common reasons patients are readmitted to the hospital. For patients living with more advanced CHF, palliative care education is provided to help patients live the fullest life possible, for as long as possible.

Because substance use is common among patients with CHF, another component of education is a treatment plan to address addiction, facilitated by substance use navigator, Justin Rodriguez. Partnerships with community providers, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and community health clinics are vital to helping keep patients on track with their treatment plan.

“The heart failure program at Sharp Chula Vista is unique for its approach to a patient’s transition of care from the hospital to home,” says Dr. Mohamedali. “We’ve seen far too many patients return to the emergency room with symptoms because of a gap — either the patient wasn’t seen during a follow-up appointment, or there was a lapse in taking prescribed treatment medications.”

Often, Dr. Mohamedali says, miscommunication is at the root of these issues. The CHF program team members’ goal is to have a seamless facilitation of the patient’s care — from the emergency room to their hospital room and later, as case workers help them prepare to go home.

“That is the commitment we make to our South Bay community,” Dr. Mohamedali says. “And that’s why I’m proud to serve on this team.”

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