Heart Failure Program at Chelsea Hospital Improves Quality of Life for Patients


By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

Matthew Konerman, MD, is a board-certified heart failure specialist and the director of the Heart Failure Program at Chelsea Hospital. He recently spoke with The Sun Times News to discuss what the Heart Failure Program is, the benefits it offers patients, and how the program is improving the lives of patients in and around the Chelsea community.

STN: In a paragraph, what is the Chelsea Heart Failure Program?

Dr. Konerman: The Chelsea Hospital Heart Failure Program is for patients that require hospitalization. It’s designed and directed by heart failure specialists, in collaboration with hospitalists, and it begins with inpatient care at Chelsea Hospital. Patients receive care throughout their hospital stay, and also receive care even after they are discharged. There are specific requirements for eligibility to get in the program, and you must receive a referral as well.

STN: In the simplest terms, what is heart failure?

Dr. Konerman: Heart failure is a progressive disease. There are different types of heart failure, and it can occur from multiple different causes. In all types of heart failure, the heart has difficulty efficiently pumping blood to the rest of the body. This can cause fluid to build up in the lungs, abdomen, and legs.

STN: How does your program address it?

Dr. Konerman: Unfortunately, approximately 50% of heart failure patients die within five years. With this program, we are working to improve survival and quality of life for patients with heart failure. We accomplish this through frequent evaluations to ensure patients are on the right doses of the right medications for their heart failure. This is particularly important after a hospitalization, as approximately 20-25% of patients hospitalized for heart failure are hospitalized again within 30 days.

STN: As the director of Chelsea Hospital’s Heart Failure Program, give us a snapshot of your day.

Dr. Konerman: I am one of the heart failure specialists that talks to patients virtually who are enrolled in the program. This involves reviewing vital signs, lab results and other clinical data with the hospitalist that evaluates the patient in person. As part of this discussion, I make recommendations to the hospitalist to optimize heart failure care.

In addition, we have a multidisciplinary team made up of nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, physicians and others who are always brainstorming ways to better serve our patients. We review our patient outcomes regularly to ensure we are providing high-quality care.

STN: What does the initial care look like?

Dr. Konerman: Our patients can be admitted to the program from a Michigan Medicine clinic, after presenting to the Michigan Medicine Emergency Department, or through presentation to the Chelsea Hospital Emergency Department. During the inpatient stay at Chelsea Hospital, patients receive consultations from a pharmacist and nutritionist. A hospitalist will interview and examine the patient and obtain a virtual consultation from a Michigan Medicine heart failure specialist daily.

STN: After discharge, what happens with ongoing care?

Dr. Konerman: All patients in the program receive 30 days of post-hospitalization care from the Michigan Medicine Heart Failure Team. This includes two visits with heart failure providers within two weeks of discharge. Patients will then continue to receive care after 30 days with a heart failure specialist or another cardiologist at Michigan Medicine. Patients also have additional visits with Michigan Medicine pharmacists and nutritionists.

STN: How does someone get into the Chelsea Heart Failure Program?

Dr. Konerman: The program requires a patient referral. Please discuss this with your physician. For more information regarding the program, please visit www.umcvc.org/chelsea-heart.

Photo: Dr. Matthew Konerman. Courtesy of Chelsea Hospital.

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