Special program for pulmonary hypertension receives national recognition

ORLANDO, Fla. (January 14, 2016) --- The Orlando Health Heart Institute’s Pulmonary Hypertension Program recently received accreditation as a Comprehensive Care Center from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA)’s accreditation program for Pulmonary Hypertension Care Centers. The institute’s program is second in the state and among the first 30 hospitals in nation to receive this accolade.

We are honored to provide such an elite and needed service to our community, and are honored by the recognition of the high quality of care our patients receive,” said James Tarver, MD, cardiologist, Orlando Health Heart Institute, and director of the program. „We’ve built a comprehensive care center from the experience and expertise within our walls, and by reaching outside our institution into to the community. The extensive collaboration with various practices such as rheumatology and lung transplantation in our community helps ensure that patients have access to the specialized care they need.”

The goal of the program, from diagnosis to treatment, is to improve outcomes of patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH), a debilitating disease of the lungs that affects the functioning of the heart and can lead to right heart failure.

Accreditation means a program has the capacity to appropriately and comprehensively manage patients with pulmonary hypertension through a set of criteria established by the PHA’s Scientific Leadership Counciland the PHCC Oversight Committee. These committees are comprised of members that are global leaders in the field of pulmonary hypertension.

In order to provide our patients with a cohesive health care team, we have a unique staff training program,” said Melisa Wilson, ARNP, pulmonary hypertension nurse practitioner and program coordinator. Wilson is also a member of the PHA Scientific Leadership Council and the PHCC Oversight Committee. „Our nurses have to successfully complete a six week course. Providing our pharmacists and nurses with an in depth understanding of the disease process reduces medication and patient car errors, which improves patient outcomes. Another unique factor is that we have close collaboration with pharmacy, respiratory therapy, nursing, echo lab, cardiac cath lab, and other departments.”

In addition to providing quality care, accredited PH Care Centers will contribute to a PHA national patient registry that will track diagnostic and treatment patterns and patient outcomes, and help establish best practices in patient care.

Pulmonary Hypertension is a rare but serious illness, which affects about 300 new patients in the United States each year. Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the small arteries (blood vessels) of the lungs become narrowed and can't carry as much blood, resulting in pressure buildup in the heart. Symptoms include breathlessness, fatigue, dizziness and chest pain.

The survival rate for patients with pulmonary hypertension who go untreated is less than three years. The median time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis is still 2 years, and many patients will see three or more different physicians over this period before they are properly diagnosed. Without treatment, the average survival rate is less than three years. In addition, many patients are hospitalized due to related complications and some require transplantation if therapies do not work. Treatment options for pulmonary hypertension include oral, inhaled and infused medications and therapies.

About Orlando Health

Orlando Health is a $2.3 billion not-for-profit health care organization and a community-based network of physician practices, hospitals, and outpatient care centers throughout Central Florida. The organization includes Orlando Health Physician Group and Physician Associates, two of the largest multi-specialty practices in Central Florida, ownership in an outpatient surgery center, and eight wholly-owned or affiliated hospitals. An Orlando Health subsidiary holds a 51 percent interest in an entity operating five outpatient imaging centers.

Orlando Health is home to the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics and is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. They are: Orlando Regional Medical Center; Dr. P. Phillips Hospital; South Seminole Hospital; Health Central Hospital, the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which consists of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies; the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health, South Lake Hospital (50 percent affiliation); and St. Cloud Regional Medical Center (20 percent affiliation). Areas of clinical excellence are heart and vascular, cancer care, neurosciences, surgery, pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatology, and women’s health.

More than 2,000 physicians have privileges at Orlando Health, which is also one of the area’s largest employers with more than 15,000 employees who support our philosophy of providing high quality care and service that revolves around patients’ needs. We prove this everyday with over 100,000 inpatient admissions and nearly 900,000 outpatient visits each year. In all, Orlando Health serves 1.8 million Central Florida residents and more than 4,500 international patients annually. Additionally, Orlando Health provides nearly $235 million in support of community health needs. More information can be found at orlandohealth.com.

About the Pulmonary Hypertension Association

Headquartered in Silver Spring, Md., with a growing list of chapters across the country, the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) is the country’s leading pulmonary hypertension organization. Its mission is to find ways to prevent and cure pulmonary hypertension and provide hope for the community through support, education, research, advocacy and awareness. PHA does this by connecting and working together with the entire PH community of patients, families and medical professionals. Among its programs, PHA facilitates more than 245 support groups around the country and delivers continuing education for medical professionals through PHA Online University. For more information or to support PHA with a donation, go to PHAssociation.org.

January 15, 2016