The Orlando Health Heart Institute’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program was recently recognized as an accredited comprehensive care center through the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)’s accreditation program for Pulmonary Hypertension Care Centers (PHCCs).
Qualifying PHCCs are either designated as a PHA-accredited Center of Comprehensive Care (CCC) or PHA-accredited Regional Clinical Program (RCP) based on a number of factors, including the quality and depth of resources available for PH patient care, and the array of therapies offered. The Orlando Health Heart Institute program is now the second within Florida, and one of 30 across the U.S., to attain CCC accreditation.
“We are honored to provide such an elite and needed service to our community, and are honored by the recognition of the high quality of care our patients receive,” Dr. James Tarver, a cardiologist at the Orlando Health Heart Institute and director of the PH program, said in a news release. “We’ve built a comprehensive care center from the experience and expertise within our walls, and by reaching outside our institution to the community. The extensive collaboration with various practices such as rheumatology and lung transplantation in our community helps ensure that patients have access to the specialized care they need.”
PHA accreditation is a measure of a center’s excellence in patient care and disease management, having met predefined criteria established by the PHA’s Scientific Leadership Council and the PHCC Oversight Committee, whose members are leading disease specialists.
“In order to provide our patients with a cohesive health care team, we have a unique staff training program,” said Melisa Wilson, ARNP, PH nurse practitioner and program coordinator, and a member of the PHA Scientific Leadership Council and the PHCC Oversight Committee. “Our nurses have to successfully complete a six week course. Providing our pharmacists and nurses with an in depth understanding of the disease process reduces medication and patient care errors, which improves patient outcomes. Another unique factor is that we have close collaboration with pharmacy, respiratory therapy, nursing, echo lab, cardiac cath lab, and other departments.”
Accredited PH Care Centers also contribute to a PHA national patient registry that tracks patterns of diagnoses, treatments, and clinical outcomes to help determine the best care practices.
PH is a rare lung disorder in which the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the lungs become narrowed, making it difficult for the blood to flow through the vessels. As a result, blood pressure in these arteries — called pulmonary arteries — rises far above normal levels. This abnormal pressure strains the right ventricle of the heart, causing it to expand in size. Overworked and enlarged, the right ventricle gradually becomes weaker and loses its ability to pump enough blood to the lungs, and over time can lead to right heart failure. Every year, about 300 people are diagnosed with PH in the U.S.
Survival rate for untreated PH patients is less than three years. The median time from symptom onset to diagnosis is two years, and many patients see three or more doctors before they are properly diagnosed and can start treatment.
Treatment varies by patient, based on specific underlying disease causes, but generally includes oral, inhaled, and infused medications. Many patients are hospitalized due to associated complications, and some may require transplantation if treatments fail.