Texas Hospital Improves Hispanic Cardiac Care

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Hispanic Cardiac Care

Del Sol Medical Centerin El Paso, Texas, has made improvements in the cardiac care itprovides to Hispanic patients through its participation in a nationalinitiative that seeks to address cardiovascular health among racial andethnic minorities, the El Paso Times reports. Four out of five patients seeking cardiac care at the hospital are Hispanic.

Nineother U.S. hospitals are participating in the initiative, calledExpecting Success: Excellence in Cardiac Care. The program is funded bythe 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 receivedideal care, compared with 78% of patients in the third quarter in 2006,according to data from the program. The hospital also improved in itsprovision of ideal care for patients experiencing heart attacks. Overthe same time period, the hospital increased the proportion of patientsreceiving recommended care from 20% to 72%, the Times reports.

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JenniferSuitonu, administrative director for Cardiovascular Services at DelSol, said, "Given our largely Hispanic population, we didn't expect tofind any disparities, but they were there at the beginning of theinitiative." According to Suitonu, "there was a disparity in the Angloand Hispanic heart failure care (treatment after discharge), but wehave reduced that down to nothing."

While data gathered for theinitiative did not point to a reason behind the disparities, hospitalofficials suspected language barriers played a role. Cardiac carepatients now receive follow-up care instructions in Spanish, andbilingual staff members are now working in areas that deal with cardiacpatients. The hospital also created a program to educate dischargedcardiac care patients on nutrition, exercise, managing medications,reducing stress and losing weight. In addition, physicians receivedtraining on postdischarge care and were asked to refer patients to theclasses.

Del Sol continues to track its performance on 23measures of cardiac care by race, ethnicity and primary language.Suitonu said, "The next big step for us is to keep heart failurepatients 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 "riskfor Hispanics, once considered surprisingly low, is greater thanpreviously thought and among the highest of all ethnic groups," the West Paterson Herald Newsreports. In addition, many Hispanics are unaware of their increasedrisk for cardiovascular disease. For example, fewer than one-third ofHispanics know that heart disease is the leading cause of death amongwomen.

In response to such findings, "a glut of public healthinitiatives" have been developed nationwide to raise awareness andprevent 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 payattention to the Hispanic population. This is brand new for us"(Querna, West Paterson Herald News, 7/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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