Shared care means getting the right heart failure care close to home

Lynnwood Butler first noticed issues with his heart on Derby Day in 2013, when hypotension resulted in syncope. Two years later, the Louisville native had a heart attack at the end of his shift waiting on tables. He received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). In 2016 and again in 2018, Lynnwood’s ICD was triggered.

“It’s like a really big dude punched me really hard in the chest,” he said. “My heart was just very, very, very weak.”

Lynnwood went to see Kelly C. McCants, M.D., medical director, and Kimberly Vessels, APRN, with the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program.

As part of a shared care network, Dr. McCants referred Lynnwood to the University of Kentucky to have a ventricular assist device (VAD) implanted. After following up at UK for three months, Lynnwood came to the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure Clinic in Louisville for checkups every month or so. Patients like Lynnwood can save the time and expense of traveling by receiving their follow-up care close to home.

“We have an open line of communication between ourselves and the University of Kentucky,” Kimberly said. “It’s a collaborative effort.”

Diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, Lynnwood is now on the transplant list at University of Kentucky Medical Center. In the meantime, the 41-year-old receives care from the Norton Healthcare team at the Advanced Heart Failure Clinic.

“It’s actually worked out really, really well,” Lynnwood said. “I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

Lynnwood is taking advantage of the Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Transplant Support Program. After his transplant, he will follow up with the University of Kentucky for a year and then his care will revert to the Norton Healthcare program for long-term follow-up. Lynnwood said he has developed a rapport with Dr. McCants and his team.

“I love it over there,” he said.

The Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program also partners with referring physicians so patients can receive most of their care close to home.

“The benefits are obvious,” Kimberly said. “Patients typically have been seeing their general cardiologist for years, so they have a rapport. Our goal is to provide advanced-level, specialized heart failure care working alongside the patient’s longstanding care team.”

Under the collaborative model, providers at the Advanced Heart Failure Clinic develop an individualized plan for the referred patient’s heart failure or myocardial recovery. The plan will include a care protocol for medication, titration, how often to follow up on lab results, remote monitoring and team guidance.

“If a cardiologist realizes the patient needs something more specialized, they can refer to us,” Kimberly said. “We’ll develop a plan for them.”

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To refer a patient to Norton Heart & Vascular Institute Advanced Heart Failure and Recovery Program, use our online form and select “Cardiology-Heart Failure.”

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