American Heart Association recognizes Windber’s work with heart-failure patients

Patients with heart failure who receive specific treatments, tests, medication, therapies and instruction while hospitalized and during discharge have better chances of returning to an active life, studies show. Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber was recognized Wednesday for improving the quality of life for its heart failure patients by meeting at least 85 percent of those core standard levels of care, said Steve Dentel, director of quality improvement initiatives for the American Heart Association. “The measures are evidence-based guidelines published through the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology,” Dentel said, presenting the Heart Association’s Get With the Guidelines bronze award for performance and achievement in heart failure treatment. “It is about patient outcomes and it’s about patients going home with the medicines and information they need,” Dentel told Windber’s team. “The changes you made have affected your patients, but not only them – their families and your community.” The achievement required close scrutiny of medical record-keeping and protocols already in place at Windber, said Michelle Hamula, director of acute care. “We utilize the information we have from patients’ charts to plan for discharge,” Hamula said, explaining that the hospital’s medical records department coordinates with direct-care workers to be sure patients leave with the right prescriptions and instructions about follow-up care and symptoms. “The main goal is to prevent readmission to the hospital,” Hamula said. “Congestive heart failure is one of the areas you see the most readmission. We want to give our patients a better quality of life.” Attaining the award did not require any major changes in hospital policies, said Barbara Cliff, hospital president and chief executive officer. “It really is a collaboration of everybody in the hospital that makes this possible,” Cliff said. The bronze award recognizes hospitals that meet guidelines for 90 days. If the performance level continues, Windber will receive a silver award after one year and a gold award after two years, Dentel said.