St. Joseph’s Health Extends Access to Heart Care

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Heart failure affects more than 6 million people in the United States and is escalating rapidly, with an estimated 960,000 newly diagnosed cases annually. In many cases, patients who visit the emergency room (ER) for heart issues do not attend the recommended follow-up visit with a cardiologist. This leads to continued cardiac issues down the road.

Russell Silverman, MD, FACC, Medical Director of the St. Joseph’s Health Heart Failure Clinic and Chief Medical Officer at Rome Memorial Hospital, (pictured on screen) using the Bluetooth technology on a patient.

Bluetooth stethoscope

With that in mind, the St. Joseph’s Health Cardiovascular Institute has opened a Heart Failure Clinic at its Brittonfield Cardiology office. The Heart Failure Clinic will provide early follow-up (within one week) to patients without an established physician/cardiologist, provide care to the uninsured and serve as a bridge for patients who aren’t able to make a follow-up appointment within one week.

“We see it time and again. People end up in the ER with heart conditions, and when they are released, they don’t see a cardiologist fast enough, or they don’t start their medications right away,” says Russell Silverman, MD, FACC, Medical Director of the St. Joseph’s Health Heart Failure Clinic and Chief Medical Officer at Rome Memorial Hospital (RMH). “This can cause continuing heart issues. The incorporation of the Heart Failure Clinic at St. Joseph’s Health will further improve access to timely, quality care and improve outcomes for our heart failure patients.”

The Heart Failure Clinic is a partnership with University of Rochester Medical Center. URMC cardiologists Leway Chen, MD, and Mark Tallman, MD, will each see patients at the Brittonfield location, reducing the need for patients to travel to Rochester for routine care. Developing an advanced heart failure treatment clinic also allows St. Joseph’s Health to provide care to its left ventricular assist device (LVAD) patient community — care that is not currently available.

“The Heart Failure Clinic improves access to timely, quality care and improve outcomes for our failure patients,” Dr. Silverman says. “There’s been a need for a clinic like this for many years. St. Joseph’s Health saw that need and stepped up to offer this important resource for the community.”

Strategic placement of the heart failure clinic within the Brittonfield practice offers availability to stress, echo and EKG services, as well as access to on-site cardiologists. It also supports the goal of reducing preventable readmissions in heart failure patients.

Dr. Silverman performs a stress test on a patient.

Improving Access in the Mohawk Valley

St. Joseph’s Health is also teaming up with RMH to offer patients in rural areas access to highly advanced cardiac care. “Bluetooth stethoscope” technology is now being used at the Cardiovascular Institute at RMH to connect cardiologists to patients without physically being together.

“This is truly remarkable technology. It’s the first of its kind in the region,” Dr. Silverman says. “It enables us to bring high quality heart care to areas that might otherwise not be served by these types of subspecialties.”

During a consultation, the patient at RMH is accompanied by a nurse or respiratory therapist (RT). They connect via computer to the cardiologist in Syracuse. The cardiologist speaks with the patient to assess how he/she is feeling. Then, the nurse or RT moves the Bluetooth stethoscope to different parts of the patient’s chest and neck so the physician can hear and see the patient’s heart activity.

“Our goal is to use this remarkable technology to keep patients close to home,” Dr. Silverman says. “By treating their heart issues using the Bluetooth stethoscope, we hope to limit the number of patients who need to be transferred out of town to St. Joseph’s Health if they don’t need tertiary care. They can stay close to their loved ones, which is what we strive for.”

St. Joseph’s Health and RMH are the only hospitals in the region using this technology. It is currently being utilized for inpatient and ER consultations.

To refer patients to the St. Joseph’s Health Cardiovascular Institute in the Dorothy G. Griffin Cardiovascular Center at RMH, call 315-338-7220.

To refer patients who need advanced heart failure management to the Heart Failure Clinic at St. Joseph’s Health, call (315) 703-5090. In addition, any patient being released from hospitalization at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital and other Central New York hospitals, as well as those being discharged from rehabilitation centers, can be referred to the Heart Failure Clinic.