University of Cincinnati Medical Center has been designated a Center of Comprehensive Care for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA).
This singular designation means the association has endorsed UC Medical Center as having all the necessary elements to provide the highest level of care for patients with PAH based on the training and credentials of medical staff, the scope of the hospital’s services and the breadth of PAH research. The appointment is current for a three-year period.
UC Medical Center is one of the first six programs to be invited to apply for the comprehensive care center designation by the PHA. It’s the only hospital in the Tristate region to receive this credential, which is also endorsed by the American College of Chest Physicians.
"We are so honored to be selected in the first wave of certifications by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association,” says Jean Elwing, MD, Director, UC Pulmonary Hypertension Program, a pulmonologist at UC Medical Center and an associate professor in the UC College of Medicine.
"It is the culmination of a decade of hard work and contributions by the pulmonary hypertension team and collaborating physicians, devoted staff and the leadership of the UC College of Medicine and UC Health.” says Elwing. "The CCC designation raises the profile of the UC PAH program in the region, and endorses our center’s ability to deliver the level of high quality care that this complex disease requires.”
UC Medical Center manages several hundred patients with PAH, a condition that increases blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and leads to shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting and fatigue, says Elwing.
"PAH is a vascular disease of the lung that predominantly affects women though it occurs in both genders,” she explains. "It may occur spontaneously or can be associated with many common medical conditions including connective tissue disease, liver disease, infectious disease, drug and toxin exposure as well as congenital heart disease. PAH is progressive, life-limiting and results in right-sided heart failure. Despite increased awareness, this disease continues to be under recognized and under diagnosed.”
The Pulmonary Hypertension Association Scientific Leadership Council began developing criteria for pulmonary hypertension comprehensive care centers (PHCCC) in 2011 in hopes of recognizing programs that deliver high-quality care. Accredited centers will have demonstrated their capacity to properly diagnose and appropriately manage complex patients with pulmonary hypertension. Accreditation will ultimately improve awareness among professionals and patients about where to seek high-quality care, a key element in improving outcomes.
Frank McCormack, MD, Director of the UC Health Pulmonary Medicine Division said, "We are all very proud of Dr. Elwing and her team. Through exemplary patient care and high level participation in pivotal trials, they created a program of the highest caliber in under ten years and earned a level of national visibility that won them a coveted spot in the inaugural PHCCC group.”
UC Medical’s pulmonary program is part of the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute, one of four institutes within the UC Health network, where clinicians, clinician scientists and basic researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine come together to conduct studies that improve patient outcomes.
"This designation from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association highlights the collaborative strength of the HLVI,” explains Richard Becker, MD, director and physician-in-chief of the UC Heart, Lung and Vascular Institute. "By working together, the Cardiology, Pulmonary and Vascular Divisions can accomplish great things and achieve better outcomes for our patients”
Elwing says that despite the availability and success of PAH-targeted therapeutic options over the past two decades, there are still shortcomings with the diagnosis and management of PAH.
The development of a certification by the PHA was triggered by recent revelations that many PAH patients are not receiving appropriately aggressive therapies even in late stages of disease and that recommended diagnostic algorithms were not being followed to completion in more than 90% of PAH patients. Furthermore, more than half of PAH patients referred to expert centers on PAH-targeted therapy were on medications that were incompatible with published guidelines.
"Our team of pulmonary and cardiology physicians, internal medicine teams, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists, research coordinators, therapists, nutritionists, social workers understand the complexities of this life threatening condition and adhere to protocols that promote patient safety,” says Elwing.
About UC Health
UC Health, the University of Cincinnati’s affiliated health system, includes University of Cincinnati Medical Center, ranked one of the best hospitals in the region by U.S. News & World Report; West Chester Hospital, one of Cincinnati’s newest hospitals and the recipient of the 2013 HealthGrades® Outstanding Patient Experience Award™, ranking it above 90 percent of hospitals nationally for patient satisfaction; Drake Center, Cincinnati’s premier provider of long-term acute care; University of Cincinnati Physicians, Cincinnati’s largest multi-specialty practice group with more than 700 board-certified clinicians and surgeons; Lindner Center of HOPE, the region’s premier mental health center; and several institutes focusing on the areas of cancer, the neurosciences, cardiovascular and diabetes. To learn more, visit UCHealth.com.