McLeod Heart & Vascular Patient Navigators helping patients manage their health
The day before Rhonda Bennett was being discharged from McLeod Regional Medical Center she met Heart and Vascular Patient Navigator Karla Williams. Rhonda had been admitted to McLeod with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure.
As a Heart and Vascular Patient Navigator, Karla’s role is to remove barriers for heart patients, making it easier for them to be compliant with their health care after discharge and to inform them of services and treatments available to them based on their chronic diagnosis.
“The goal of a Patient Navigator is to work with the patient on their health concerns to prevent
re-admission to the hospital,” said Karla.
Rhonda’s biggest barrier to improving her health was smoking. At the time, Rhonda smoked two packs a day. With nicotine patches and Karla helping her find motivational resources, Rhonda reduced her smoking to four cigarettes a day. It was also important to educate Rhonda’s family on the dangers of smoking to her health. Now, Rhonda’s family has scrubbed clean the smell of tobacco from the house and, they will only smoke outside.
Transportation was another challenge for Rhonda. A resident of Johnsonville, South Carolina, Rhonda did not have transportation to her medical appointments in Florence. Karla educated Rhonda on how she can get rides to her physician appointments through community services.
Karla also assisted in getting Rhonda enrolled in a Heart Failure Clinic at McLeod. The clinic is a four-week program held at the offices of McLeod Cardiology Associates. Rhonda attended the clinic to receive further education on helping her fully understand and manage her congestive heart failure.
“I wanted Rhonda to feel empowered and in control of her own health care, and that is what we have worked together to achieve,” said Karla. “She sets her own doctor’s appointments, arranges for the rides to get there, and is committed to taking care of what is important, her health.
“Rhonda has five grandchildren, ages one to nine, that are her heart. She really wants to watch them grow up. But, if she continued to smoke two packs a day with her congestive heart failure that was not likely to happen,” added Karla.
“I believe God put Karla in my life for a reason,” said Rhonda. “She keeps me motivated. I feel like she went above and beyond for me even though I know she treats all of her patients this way. With Karla’s help I have achieved a milestone in my health, but I stay in contact with her because now she feels like family to me.”