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Sharp Health News

Empowering patients to heal at home

Sept. 15, 2021

Marla Hutchins and Christa Panigall

Marla Hutchins (left) successfully transitioned home after being hospitalized with congestive heart failure, thanks to the support of Christa Panigall (right) and the Sharp Care Transitions Intervention Program.

Sometimes life can surprise you in the best — and worst — ways. And occasionally, those surprises come at once, as Marla Hutchins discovered last summer.

Marla, 61, had a heart attack in August 2020 and was hospitalized. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and quickly realized that things would have to change for her to be able to enjoy a full and healthy life with her daughter and grandchildren, with whom she lives.

“I had never really had heart problems before,” Marla says. “I had so many questions after my heart attack and didn’t know what to do, until Christa came along and explained it all.”

Christa Panigall, MSW, is a coach with the Care Transitions Intervention (CTI) Program at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. CTI helps patients successfully transition from hospital to home, continue their recovery, and avoid returning to the hospital.

She reached out to Marla to help her understand her diagnosis, treatment plan, medications and more. From explaining the importance of a heart-healthy diet and finding a new primary care doctor, to arranging for home health care and providing education to help during critical medical moments, Christa was able to successfully get Marla’s needs met.

“From the beginning, she was eager to participate in the program and saw the benefit of having a coach and the support and resources that come with one,” Christa says.

In between regularly scheduled conversations, Marla knows she can call Christa with any additional questions and concerns. With the help of the CTI Program, she has improved her health and gotten on track to recovery.

“Christa is so very kind and patient,” Marla says. “Not only has she helped me, but she also took some of the pressure off my daughter and grandchildren. With my strong belief in God, my family and everything Christa and my doctors have done for me, I know that I can get through this.”

The Care Transitions Intervention Program is one of many community programs Sharp provides. In addition to no-cost support groups, COVID-19 vaccines and health screenings, Sharp gives back to the community by donating time and volunteer support, education and training programs for students and community health professionals, and uncompensated care for patients who are unable to pay for medical services provided by Sharp hospitals. In fiscal year 2020, Sharp donated nearly $463 million in community benefits and services, including unreimbursed care.

Learn more about Sharp's work in the community and the Community Health Needs Assessment that informs and guides this work.

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