Meet the Heart Failure Management Program Team
The UW Health Heart Failure Management Program takes a multifaceted approach to treatment by including a team of experts from various specialties and services.
The Heart Failure Management Program Team
Experts within the Heart Failure Management Program include cardiovascular medicine doctors and cardiac surgeons, as well as a multidisciplinary team, including:
Nurse Practitioners (NPs)
The nurse practitioners assist with the medical management of patients in the clinic and when hospitalized. Nurse practitioners are available for outpatient visits for patients who need to be seen urgently, thus decreasing the need to go to an emergency room.
Heart Failure Nurses
The heart failure nurses are the immediate lifeline for patients for information regarding their health issues. Each patient is assigned a primary nurse. Through teaching and lifestyle modification, the nurses work with patients and their families to optimize the patient's health.
In selected patients, the nurse does daily monitoring through a computerized data log that allows patients to report how they feel. The nurses, nurse practitioners and physicians collaborate to make recommendations for patients who are symptomatic.
Social workers assist patients and families with the stresses associated with sudden and chronic illnesses such as heart failure. Services include:
- Supportive counseling
- Referrals to community agencies/facilities
- Preparation of advance directives
- Information about financial programs
- Resource identification
- Introduction to relaxation techniques
Dietitians are the team member responsible for a patient's nutritional needs. While a patient is in the hospital, the dietitian will complete nutrition screens, assessments and education. Lifestyle and meal patterns are reviewed as necessary, and patients are educated on potential lifestyle changes.
After discharge, patients see registered dietitians in the clinic to receive further nutrition counseling, guidance and support. Education is individualized to the patient's personal needs while meeting the American Dietetic Association's Guidelines for sound Medical Nutrition Therapy.
Exercise physiologists provide instruction on how to make lifestyle changes. Services include:
- Monitoring inpatient activity
- Exercise testing (including exercise prescriptions)
- Education on coronary artery disease risk factors
- Referrals to outpatient cardiac rehabilitation programs
Before a patient begins the evaluation process for a heart transplant and/or a left ventricular assist device, a financial counselor will communicate with the patient's insurance company about their benefits. They will then meet with the patient to explain their benefits and answer any questions the patient may have about insurance.
Pharmacists initiate outpatient visits by discussing a patient's individualized treatment plan and answering questions patients may have about their medications. They monitor for drug interactions and ensure that medications are tailored to the patient's heart failure condition. Pharmacists provide education about heart failure and medications and reinforce all heart failure education.
Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) Coordinators
For patients in severe heart failure, a left ventricular assist device (heart pump) may be implanted for short-term therapy (as a bridge to heart transplant) or as long term therapy (destination therapy). VAD coordinators provide education and support to patients and families, enabling them to maintain quality of life, ideally in the home environment.
VAD coordinators work with local resources to facilitate a smooth transition to home care with local support. VAD coordinators teach patients and their families about the heart pump, including how to assess proper function of the pump, prevent complications, troubleshoot emergencies and provide immediate emergency and non-emergency intervention. VAD coordinators are accessible to patients for concerns regarding all aspects of care related to the pump and the patient's overall health.