Texas Hospital Improves Hispanic Cardiac Care Through Robert Wood Johnson Foundation InitiativeDel Sol Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, has made improvements in the cardiac care it provides to Hispanic patients through its participation in a national initiative that seeks to address cardiovascular health among racial and ethnic minorities, the El Paso Times reports. Four out of five patients seeking cardiac care at the hospital are Hispanic.
Nine other U.S. hospitals are participating in the initiative, called Expecting Success: Excellence in Cardiac Care. The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by experts from George Washington University.
Through the program, Del Sol improved in its provision of care for heart failure patients that meets standards established by American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Thirteen percent of patients in the fourth quarter of 2005 received ideal care, compared with 78% of patients in the third quarter in 2006, according to data from the program. The hospital also improved in its provision of ideal care for patients experiencing heart attacks. Over the same time period, the hospital increased the proportion of patients receiving recommended care from 20% to 72%, the Times reports.
Jennifer Suitonu, administrative director for Cardiovascular Services at Del Sol, said, "Given our largely Hispanic population, we didn't expect to find any disparities, but they were there at the beginning of the initiative." According to Suitonu, "there was a disparity in the Anglo and Hispanic heart failure care (treatment after discharge), but we have reduced that down to nothing."
While data gathered for the initiative did not point to a reason behind the disparities, hospital officials suspected language barriers played a role. Cardiac care patients now receive follow-up care instructions in Spanish, and bilingual staff members are now working in areas that deal with cardiac patients. The hospital also created a program to educate discharged cardiac care patients on nutrition, exercise, managing medications, reducing stress and losing weight. In addition, physicians received training on postdischarge care and were asked to refer patients to the classes.
Del Sol continues to track its performance on 23 measures of cardiac care by race, ethnicity and primary language. Suitonu said, "The next big step for us is to keep heart failure patients out of the hospital" (Washington Valdez, El Paso Times, 7/9).
Studies Address Hispanic Cardiovascular Health
In recent years, studies have shown that cardiovascular disease "risk for Hispanics, once considered surprisingly low, is greater than previously thought and among the highest of all ethnic groups," the West Paterson Herald News reports. In addition, many Hispanics are unaware of their increased risk for cardiovascular disease. For example, fewer than one-third of Hispanics know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women.
In response to such findings, "a glut of public health initiatives" have been developed nationwide to raise awareness and prevent the onset of the disease, according to the Herald News. Carolyn Strimike, a nurse practitioner at the St. Joseph Hospital Women's Heart Center, said, "We thought it was other groups at risk, and now we've got to pay attention to the Hispanic population. This is brand new for us" (Querna, West Paterson Herald News, 7/10).