ACH Cardiac Rehabilitation Center extends their services to Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Patients

Posted on: 06/13/2014

Auburn Community Hospital is proud to announce they are one of the first in the country to accept a Congestive Heart Failure patient referred and covered by Medicare for treatment at a Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.

“Medicare was originally approached in 2008 to include this diagnosis as one of the diagnoses that can be covered for Cardiac Rehabilitation Services” David Lee of ACH Cardiac Rehabilitation Services explained. “Over the past three years, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehab, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and Heart Failure Society of America submitted a formal request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a national coverage determination to add Congestive Heart Failure to the list of approved indications for Cardiac Rehabilitation.”

Ann Bryant, of Auburn, has become the first patient at ACH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center to start rehabilitation therapy for Congestive Heart Failure. “I have a long cardiovascular history” Ann shared. “This all started about 20 years ago from a virus. And women were not treated for heart conditions at the time. I watched my brothers receive treatment. But I could not.”

Medicare now allows payment for rehabilitation therapy services for CHF patients. This enabled Ann to start her rehabilitation, becoming one of the first CHF patients in the country to get referral and approved treatment for Congestive Heart Failure at a Cardiac Rehabilitation facility.

Ann went into Congestive Heart Failure last spring. It took a couple months to realize what was going on. She was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation. Come summer, she received an implantable pacemaker/defibrillator.

During this time, Ann was referred to Dr. Godishala, Dr. Agno and Dr. Kircher, all of Auburn Cardiology Associates and Auburn Community Hospital.  She was informed this diagnosis was not covered for rehabilitation services, but that did not stop Ann and her doctors from their continuous efforts to get Medicare to approve coverage for this service. “This is a wonderful step in heart health,” Dr. Barbara Kircher stated. “The right diagnosis and access [to rehabilitation services equals the right solution.”

“As Congestive Heart Failure is currently the number one hospital admission and discharge reason in our country, management has significantly improved with advancing medical care and types of medication prescribed,” Dr. Rama Godishala explained. “These factors make a considerable change in the quality of life and survival for CHF patients.”

Dr. Felizen Agno, whom recently became a Fellow of American College of Cardiology (FACC), worked closely with Bryant on this significant step in healthcare coverage advancement. “Many women with heart disease tend to move forward in life without seeking help. I cannot stress enough the need to seek medical attention before it’s too late for them” Agno said.

“Once I was diagnosed, I was no longer allowed to go to the gym with my husband due to all the dangers. It is so wonderful to have this opportunity [to work out] again,” as Ann explained her constant active life raising 9 children. “We are monitored during our entire session here, which takes a lot of stress and worry away.”

Ann has great regards for the staff of ACH’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, which includes David Lee, M.S.Ed, R.C.E.P, Donna Carter, R.N., M.S.N., and Dietician Hannah Richter, R.D., C.D.N. “They are very good to all of us and are so educated and experienced in their field. I really trust them and what they do.”

“Ann should really get credit for this advancement in Cardiac Rehabilitation” Lee noted. “The best part of this is Ann’s ambition. She has worked very hard at this for many years, through ups and downs, and all are very fortunate due to her persistence.”

Auburn Community Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center offers multiple stages of rehabilitation services:

Phase I: Inpatient nutrition and nursing education.

Phase II: Cardiac Rehabilitation with supervised, monitored exercise, education and counseling;

Phase III: Supervised exercise program: ongoing as long as the patient wants to participate;

Risk Factor Management Program: Improving primary prevention of cardiac risk factors and ways to avoid further cardiac health issues.  

Lastly, a Smoker’s Cessation Program: Donna Carter offers on her personal time.

“The main medical reasons people come to our rehab is, obviously, heart conditions, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and being a smoker.” Carter explained.

These rehabilitation services have given hundreds of community members with heart conditions the chance to strengthen their hearts and improve their quality of their life.

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