Nurses create a home care kit for heart patients
Oxygen pours from the mask of the 89-year-old man, lying in a hospital bed on the fifth floor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH). It’s the 15th time Compton resident Claude Pickens been here for treatment related to congestive heart failure.
That high rate of what hospitals call “readmissions” – patients coming back again and again for the same condition – is what led a group of MLKCH nurses to pioneer a new heart-health education program that they hope will give patients the tools they need to stay healthy and out of the hospital.
Congestive heart failure patients have one of the highest rates of readmission at MLKCH. Although the reasons are many – too many fluids, spiking blood pressure – nurses noticed a common issue: Lack of education about how to manage the disease at home.
Managing heart disease requires patients to do many things – monitor their fluids, measure their blood pressure, weigh themselves regularly and understand the dangers of increased weight gain. Patients are usually given advice on how to take care of themselves when they leave a hospital. But the high numbers of patients coming back suggested this wasn’t enough.