Coronavirus – New supports for vulnerable heart patients

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   8th Apr 2020

The Irish Heart Foundation and heart failure nurses, launch online and telephone support services to help people living with heart failure and other heart conditions during the coronavirus outbreak

The Irish Heart Foundation , in partnership with clinical nurse specialists around the country,has launched a range of new telephone and online supports to help support heart patients during the Coronavirus crisis.

An estimated 90,000 people in Ireland live with heart failure, a highly debilitating and life-threatening condition. Heart failure patients are classified as an “at-risk group” by the HSE as they may be more at risk of serious illness if they contract the coronavirus.

Heart failure is a condition which requires on-going management by patients and their hospital healthcare team, and patients regularly visit hospital to see their heart failure nurse.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, heart failure teams have moved to phone consultations where possible and in some cases even relocated their services to make them safer for patients to attend. However, some heart failure nurses have been redeployed to other areas of work to help combat the coronavirus.

“The heart failure service is critical to keeping a particularly vulnerable patient cohort well in the community,"

Norma Caples, Lead Nurse , National Clinical Programme for Heart Failure

In order to support heart failure patients at this difficult and worrying time, the Irish Heart Foundaiton has transitioned its network of 26 stroke and heart failure support groups, which prior to the coronavirus outbreak met regularly in person, to online and telephone support for all group members.

The charity has also launched a new nurse support telephone service which is available five days a week to people living with heart disease and stroke. It has also established a closed Facebook forum where clinical nurse specialists will share information and advice with patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative is supported by Novartis, Vifor Pharma and a group of pharmaceutical and other companies based in Ireland.

Speaking about the new online support network, Norma Caples, Lead Nurse for the National Clinical Programme for Heart Failure said, “The heart failure service is critical to keeping a particularly vulnerable patient cohort well in the community. Heart failure patients have reported to me that they are afraid to go to their GP or hospital in case of contracting COVID19. We need to try and manage their care as near as possible to their home. We must reassure and support them at this time.”

“Over the coming weeks and months, if patients don’t receive support there is a risk that their condition may deteriorate, and they may have to be admitted to hospital,"

Lucinda McNerney, Patient Services Development Manager, The Irish Heart Foundation

Lucinda McNerney, Patient Services Development Manager, Irish Heart Foundation, said, “We’ve been hearing from heart failure patients around the country that they are extremely worried about potentially getting the coronavirus and the impact it would have on their health. Most patients are staying home and protecting themselves, but our concern is that as a result they are not getting the on-going support they need to manage their condition.”

“Over the coming weeks and months, if patients don’t receive support there is a risk that their condition may deteriorate, and they may have to be admitted to hospital. That would put added pressure on a healthcare system already under significant strain and would potentially put them at extra risk of contracting the virus.”

“For most heart failure patients, their heart failure nurse is like a member of the family – but most importantly that family member you actually listen to. In this challenging time, that relationship is more important than ever and with this online group we are giving patients and nurses a forum where they can keep in touch and share information and advice.”

“We wouldn’t be able to run these new services without the vital support of a group of pharmaceutical and other companies, led by our long-term partner Novartis, who have stepped up and made a commitment to support people living with heart disease and the effects of stroke during this unprecedented time.”

Audrey Derveloy, Managing Director, Novartis added, “Novartis is delighted to support this new online support network for heart failure patients. People with heart failure are classified as an “at-risk group” by the HSE so we are very happy to collaborate with the Irish Heart Foundation to assist this group of people”.

Support available

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

 

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coronavirus Covid-19 heart disease heart failure online support phone support stroke

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