Hope and help for COPD patients
Three times a week you’ll find Jon Nichols playing his harmonica and singing with the guys in his band. It’s remarkable, because just one year ago, Jon Nichols could barely breathe.
Nichols is one of 11 million Americans diagnosed with COPD. He was rushed to the hospital in 2015 in full respiratory failure. “I knew I was in real trouble.” That’s where he first met the clinical teams at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center who would help him reclaim his life learning to live with COPD.
No one wants to hear they have COPD,” says respiratory therapist Curtis Morrison. “We tell them straight up, ‘you can’t undo the damage to your lungs but you can take steps to prevent more damage to feel better and live better.’” Jon Nichols says it was a wake-up call for him. After spending seven days in the hospital, “I vowed I would never be back. I quit smoking right then and there.” Nichols was given an opportunity to participate in the pulmonary rehabilitation classes offered through Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. “I did everything they told me to do. The first few weeks I couldn’t walk from the car to the lobby without stopping to catch my breath. They got me started on the treadmill, taught me how to manage my symptoms and to understand how I can protect and preserve my lungs.”
The cardiopulmonary and respiratory care services program at Legacy Salmon Creek is an interdisciplinary team of case managers, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and pharmacists who help patients create an action plan so they can track their symptoms and respond more quickly when they are having a bad breathing day. The action plan reminds the patient of what they can do, how to use prescribed medications and guidelines and when to seek medical attention. It’s working. The re-admission rate at Legacy Salmon Creek has been cut in half.
We see evidence that our coordinated effort is making a significant difference,” says Heather Dekker, quality improvement consultant at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. The readmission rate has decreased from 24 percent in May 2015 to 10 percent in May 2016. “What’s changed? We think we’re reaching out patients through our coordinated effort providing one-on-one support and education,” says Dekker.
Having seen the decrease in hospital re-admissions among those with moderate to severe COPD, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center will continue its outreach programs and expand its reach to patients with mild symptoms who may not have been diagnosed. A pulmonary function test offered at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center can confirm the diagnosis. “COPD is not curable but it is treatable,” says Curtis. “We want to give everybody the tools they need to have the best possible quality of life.”
For more information about cardiopulmonary and respiratory care at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center and the local support groups meeting in Vancouver you can call 360-487-3474. Click here to learn how we can help if you have COPD. Learn more about COPD.