New clinic addresses readmission rate for heart failure

New clinic addresses readmission rate for heart failure

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A Grand Strand clinic is hoping to break the cycle of people being admitted and then readmitted to hospitals for heart failure.

This clinic, the first of its kind locally, just opened at Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach.

The purpose of the Heart Failure Clinic is to improve the lives of patients diagnosed with the condition. It only accepts adult patients suffering from heart failure who need help managing it.

Dr. Jerry Watson, the clinic's medical director, said the causes of heart failure are too numerous to list. Still, the basic underlying cause is extra fluid on the heart.

The goal of the clinic is to help patients reduce their risk of heart failure through diet, refilling prescriptions and overall lifestyle changes.

"They don't know that salt causes it, their blood pressure causes it, not taking your medicines causes it," Watson said. "And a lot of it, a big part of it, is education, and that's where we're really sort of a team approach."

Watson added many heart failure patients return to the hospital because of non-compliance rates. Lowering sodium intake, for example, can help to remedy heart issues, he said.

The clinic also hopes to decrease costs for readmitted patients. In addition to money, socioeconomic status and a lack of transportation can affect access to care.

Watson said patients on Medicare are not covered if they are admitted to the hospital with the same symptoms more than once in 30 days. He added this has hurt many patients, especially ones returning for treatable issues.

"A lot of these people get discharged and they go who knows where," Watson said. "They don't have primary care doctors and they don't have anywhere to follow up. So by getting them an appointment back here within seven days, which is what we try to do when they've been hospitalized, we try to keep this from happening again."

The clinic opened in late December 2016 and was modeled after other heart failure clinics throughout South Carolina.

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