Published on September 28, 2019

New heart failure clinic opens

By Amelia Harper

Staff Writer, Rocky Mount Telegram

Heart Failure Clinic with Erica

Heart Failure Nurse Practitioner Erica Mountjoy, left, looks for fluid in the legs of Yvonne Murphy on Friday during her appointment at the Heart Failure Clinic at UNC Cardiology at Nash.

Patients in the area dealing with congestive heart failure now have another option for receiving treatment to remove excess fluid that results from the condition and which can interfere with breathing and other normal activities.

UNC Cardiology at Nash recently has opened an outpatient Heart Failure and Intravenous IV Diuresis Clinic to improve care and access to services for heart failure patients, according to a press release from Nash UNC Health Care.

“We have seen a rise in heart failure in our emergency department in recent years, and it is the leading cause of 30-day hospital re-admissions,” Sarah Heenan, executive director of Nash UNC Health Care’s Heart Center, said in the release. “Outpatient IV diuresis helps many patients avoid emergency department visits and potential hospitalization, and therefore allows them quicker, easier and more cost-effective access to treatment.”

Patients diagnosed by a medical provider with heart failure and meeting certain criteria such as being medically stable and being able to use the bathroom independently or with minimal help can qualify for outpatient IV diuresis, which helps regulate bodily fluid balance to support proper heart function in advanced heart failure patients. Their primary care physician, cardiologist or other medical provider can refer them to UNC Cardiology at Nash to establish care, the release said.

Timmy Owens, 49, a patient at the Heart Failure Clinic, said on Friday that he came to the clinic twice a week for about four weeks to undergo treatments to have excess fluid removed after he suffered a recent cardiac event.

“I lost five pounds in fluid during one treatment and I feel much better now. I also have more energy than I did before,” Owens said in an interview.

Owens said he appreciates the care he gets at the clinic and the convenience of treatment.

“They are nice people here and they have a great bedside manner,” Owens said. “When I come, I sit here for a few hours and watch television here or watch shows on my phone while the treatment is going on and then I can go home.”

Erica Mountjoy, a family nurse practitioner who directs the heart failure clinic, said many of the patients the clinic treats normally would be hospitalized for these procedures if the heart clinic were not available.

“We follow up with many of the patients that come into the hospital for heart failure,” Mountjoy said. “We can check their medications and make sure they are keeping the fluid off. In the past, many of these patients would have ended up in the emergency department and would have been admitted to the hospital to get IV therapy to remove the excess fluid.”

Patients receiving IV diuresis should expect their visit to last four hours during which an IV will be placed and labs and vital signs will be monitored prior to medication administration and throughout the treatment, the press release said.

“This is an exciting time for the Heart Center and our comprehensive cardiology program in this community,” Heenan said. “The Heart Failure and IV Diuresis Clinic will open many doors for our patients to better control their health and to enjoy life outside the hospital.”

The Heart Failure Clinic is located in the UNC Cardiology at Nash building on the back campus of Nash UNC Health Care in the former office of Boice-Willis Pediatrics.

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