Northwestern Medicine

Northwestern Medicine's New Cardiology Unit Targets Continuum of Care for Heart Patients

Northwestern Memorial Hospital November 13, 2011

New wing extends hospital’s intense focus on cardiovascular care from intake to discharge

CHICAGO, IL – When it comes to evaluating and treating heart disease and heart failure, expertise and every minute counts. From the moment patients with exacerbated heart symptoms—like chest pain, tightness and/or breathing difficulties—enter the emergency department (ED) at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, their cardiovascular care begins. As a way to further enhance the continuity in how to treat cardiovascular patients—from ED arrival to discharge— Northwestern Memorial Hospital recently opened a new inpatient unit in its Galter Pavilion tower. The new wing of 36 beds, 12 of which are devoted to observing and treating patients who present through the ED and are in need of cardiac monitoring, opened to patients in late September.

“This new unit represents a true collaboration between our emergency, cardiology and nursing departments,” said Charles Davidson, MD, Medical Director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “When patients enter an emergency room with cardiac symptoms and do not require admission to an intensive care unit, they are initially treated by internists. With our new unit, once a patient is admitted to the hospital, they immediately receive specialized care from a cardiologist. The goal of this increased focus is to improve patient outcomes, decrease their length of hospital stay and reduce readmissions after discharge.”

The unit has a specialized heart failure nurse coordinator to serve as an educator and resource to patients and families, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately, to home. The next phase is to develop an outpatient area where heart failure patients will come back within 48 hours of their discharge and follow up with the same cardiologist or caregiver that cared for them during their acute stay. The goal is to provide a smooth transition for the patient and give them the necessary tools to help manage their own medical needs.

Heart failure often develops after other conditions have damaged or weakened your heart. Over time, the heart can no longer keep up with the normal demands placed on it to pump blood to the rest of your body. Heart failure plagues more than five million Americans and is the most common reason for hospitalization and repeat hospitalization in patients 65 years and older. Medications can improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure, and lifestyle changes such as exercising, reducing the salt in your diet, managing stress and losing excess weight, can further improve your quality of life. 

To schedule an appointment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.926.0779. 

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