Veteran Connection: New clinic helps prevent hospital admissions | News


Imagine you just found out you have a condition called congestive heart failure, so what happens next?

To assess your illness, your doctor will examine you, ask questions, and do some tests. They will listen to your heartbeat and your breathing, and you will be checked for swelling in your legs and neck. When you have fluid buildup or fluid in the lungs, it can be from congestive heart failure.

This may sound scary, but it doesn’t mean your heart has failed. In fact, with the right treatment, heart failure can be controlled. You can feel and live better with fewer symptoms and fewer trips to the hospital.

When Navy Veteran Jack Pinkston had a heart attack 12 years ago, he had to undergo a quadruple bypass.

Seeing the need for additional support, Pinkston’s physician referred him over to the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Clinic, where Gene Richison, APRN, and Jessica Morton, RN, were waiting to give Pinkston the extra care and support he needed.

The CHF Clinic at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center was established by Richison in September 2020 and LaVonne Pinkston, the veteran’s wife, credits the clinic with helping her husband improve substantially. However, it is the newly created Outpatient Diuresis Clinic that has been a game changer for them.

The Diuresis Clinic, developed and managed by Morton, began in January as an extension of the CHF Clinic. Working as a team with Richison, Morton says they have successfully treated eight veterans and prevented eight hospital admissions since the clinic’s launch.

“With heart failure, fluid builds up because the body’s heart isn’t operating as strongly as it normally would,” Morton said. “Diuresis is when we give the veteran’s medications through their IV. This eases the swelling and water buildup caused by heart failure. Diuretics are used in the treatment of heart failure due to their ability to greatly improve a variety of symptoms caused by the condition.”

The two clinics serve approximately 400 veterans throughout the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, including clinics in Idabel and McAlester.

“Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in the U.S. annually,” Morton said. “Our goal is to spread the word about this new clinic we have to offer. If we can increase veteran participation, we can prevent more hospitalizations and re-admissions.”

Fewer hospitalizations are something the Pinkston’s are finding much value in. Pinkston can now get his treatment on an outpatient basis rather than spending hours as an inpatient.

“When we started going to the CHF Clinic, we saw a massive improvement,” said Pinkston’s wife. “Now, with the addition of the Diuresis Clinic, they can take care of him right here in the clinic without the overnight stay in the hospital. I just have to contact them, and they will take care of us.”

For more information about the CHF Clinic or Diuresis Clinic, call and ask to speak to your Primary Care Team about getting a consult at 1-888-397-8387.


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