Terisa Kramer, whose heart condition was first diagnosed in 1990, wasn't referred to the Heart Failure Clinic – two of the four programs that make up Transitional Care at Via Christi – until her August 2017 hospital stay.
They thought she could benefit from the in-home heart failure education provided by the Community Paramedic Program as well as the Heart Failure Clinic's team approach to helping her manage her care. Her physician concurred.
“I was feeling so bad, but then I started coming to the clinic and began to feel comfortable,” says Terisa. “It was like I knew everyone right from the start. It’s been a life-saver.”
Her level of comfort with the staff wasn’t the only difference she experienced.
“I’ve never had a place that I can call and talk to anybody and get positive feedback and quick responses to my medical needs,” says Terisa, who appreciates working with a team whose goal is to help her avoid having to be admitted to the hospital.
Prior to becoming a patient of the clinic, Terisa had gone to the emergency room five times in just one year, resulting in one observation stay and two inpatient stays. Since being in the Heart Failure Program, Terisa has only had one inpatient hospital stay for which she was directly admitted, meaning she didn’t go through the emergency department.
Terisa has a deep appreciation for each staff member at the clinic, whom she calls “very special.” She has particularly appreciated Jeannine Schaffer, APRN, who she says takes time to listen and is able to pick out the important details.
“She thinks outside the box,” says Terisa, noting that it was Schaffer who referred her to the Wound and Skin Clinic to address her leg wounds, helped her control her water-weight gain and sodium intake and who connected her with Via Christi's Heart Failure Support Group.
“It’s good to be able to talk to others who have the same issues,” says Terisa. She adds that the clinic also helps coordinate care between her specialists, including a kidney doctor, cardiologist and Wound and Skin Clinic staff.
Terisa, who has recently been working with social worker Alison Hodge to discuss end of life options, says she wishes she had gotten the support she is receiving now earlier in her diagnosis.
“If I’d been informed about the proper diet, fluid and sodium like I am now, I would be in much better shape,” she says.