Cardiac Care amid COVID-19

Dr. Janet Roman, director of Cardiac Programs for Empath Health

 

By Karen Davis-Pritchett, Empath Health Vice President of Access & Inclusion

COVID-19 has significantly impacted Black communities. According to the CDC, Black Americans have been almost three times more likely to be hospitalized and two times more likely to die from the virus. And we know those suffering from heart and lung conditions such as COPD have been found to be extra vulnerable.

Empath Health’s CardiacCare Connections heart failure home care and hospice programs serve patients living with advanced cardiac disease. Director of Cardiac Programs Janet Roman, DNP, RN, APRN, ACNP-BC, CHFN, ACHPN oversees the program and holds additional nursing certifications in advanced heart failure and advanced hospice and palliative care.

Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Roman and her team have helped cardiac patients have an improved quality of life while looking for innovative and comprehensive tools to keep them safe.

“Heart failure is a particularly distressing condition for patient. It causes shortness of breath, excess fluid, swelling, and other discomfort,” said Dr. Roman.

Palliative-focused cardiac care provides an expert layer of care coordination, education, and pain and symptom treatment to help improve comfort for patients, keep them at home, and support families. Palliative care focuses on quality of life, treating and preventing symptoms and side effects.

Empath Health has added resources to ensure our cardiac patients continue to be safe during COVID-19 while not sacrificing the expert care they need.

According to Dr. Roman, “the CDC recommends social distancing, especially for our vulnerable cardiac patients, so we have enacted the use of remote monitoring equipment and telemedicine. This monitoring equipment is designed to transmit daily weights and blood pressure readings directly to our patient portal. With this information, we can assist patients with managing their heart failure symptoms by detecting subtle changes. We can intervene early and pre-emptively, keeping our patients comfortable in their homes.”

Telemedicine complements the monitoring equipment allowing patients face-to-face connection to our clinicians so they could monitor patients, make diagnoses and prescribe treatments as needed. These services are available 24/7.

Part of Dr. Roman’s job is to make sure families understand the disease process and the management of symptoms.

“My job is to manage patients’ symptoms and improve their quality of life. I talk with patients when they are feeling their best. I talk openly and honestly. We explore their goals of care. I ask questions like, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘When do you want to be put on a breathing machine?’” Dr. Roman noted.

She also helps educate and supports families, “There’s no cure for heart failure. Patients’ number one distressing symptom is shortness of breath, and that causes anxiety, which then causes more shortness of breath. Shortness of breath usually is what leads patients to the hospital. They need palliative care integrated into their everyday care. This comprehensive home-based program aims to decrease heart failure symptoms, decrease hospitalizations and increase quality of life for patients. It also brings peace of mind and additional support for families,” she explained.

Learn more about Empath Health’s CardiacCare Program at EmpathHealth.org.

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