Hospice of Chattanooga Announces "Heart Touch Journey Program"

Alleo Health System, Hospice of Chattanooga's parent company, announces the launch of its new Heart Touch Journey Program for palliative care patients. The new palliative care program is designed to maximize the quality of life for cardiac disease patients who need assistance with pain and symptom management.

"The Heart Touch Journey Program significantly enhances Hospice of Chattanooga and Alleo Health System's capacity for providing the same quality-of-life care to hospice and now palliative care patients for which we are known across 22 counties in southeast Tennessee, southwest Georgia and North Carolina," said Tracy Wood, CEO of Hospice of Chattanooga. "Heart Touch Journey provides a full range of medical, psychosocial and spiritual support to patients and their families so that they are not facing their challenging journey alone."

Each participant in the Heart Touch Journey Program receives a daily assessment by visit or phone and 24-hour access to a program nurse practitioner seven days a week from their own home. Patients will have all necessary cardiac medications in a comfort kit to help them manage pain, anxiety and swelling. Program eligibility includes patients showing a number of critical conditions that could be managed at home with the oversight of our palliative care team in conjunction with their physicians. A patient experiencing a cycle of increasing symptoms such as weight gain or loss, anxiety, swelling of abdomen and limbs, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, congestion and sleeping during the day may also be eligible for this new cardiac program.

"Many of our Palliative Care Services patients suffer from congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease, said Dr. Greg Phelps, Chief Medical Officer at Hospice of Chattanooga. "Our goal is to manage their symptoms and pain to increase their quality of life -- not only for the patients themselves but also their families. Heart Touch Journey will result in fewer readmissions to the hospital, more time spent at home, and more control and extra support for patients and families."

photo Dr. Greg Phelps, Chief Medical Officer

Their physician remains in control with an added layer of communication and support from our clinicians in the home. Additionally, Palliative Care can also help the patient sort through information regarding goals of care and patient care priorities, Dr. Phelps noted.

Heart Touch Journey offers education, support and treatment through a team approach to addressing a cardiac patient's medical, psychosocial and spiritual needs, including those experienced by their families and loved ones, Dr. Phelps added. End-stage heart disease patients may be eligible if they also suffer from chronic conditions such as pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension or renal disease, or if they have a history of cardiac arrest or unexplained losses of consciousness due to a drop in blood pressure.

"The Heart Touch Journey program for hospice patients has been very successful with a 0% hospital readmission rate," Dr. Phelps also pointed out. "We are excited about tailoring this program to those patients who are receiving palliative care."

It is also important to consider palliative care if the family is overwhelmed by the patient's care regimen at home or if the patient has multiple office and emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

For any questions or to make a referral, please call Palliative Care Services at 423-553-1823.

Founded in 1980, Hospice of Chattanooga offers a variety of family-focused services that seek to meet the medical, emotional and spiritual needs of patients during their end-of-life journey, and to support their loved ones through the process and beyond. Chattanooga's first and longest-running hospice organization also offers palliative care services for those facing a serious illness and special programs for children facing life-limiting illnesses. Palliative Care Services cares for patients in their homes, our clinic setting as well as hospital, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. Meeting patients and families where they are on their journey.

Hospice of Chattanooga and Palliative Care Services serves people in 22 counties in southeast Tennessee, northwest Georgia and North Carolina. More information is available at hospiceofchattanooga.org or by calling 423-892-4289.