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Specialist help for cardiac patients

17 March 2011

Heart patients in Jersey are benefiting from 2 cardiac specialist nurses thanks to a grant of £250,000 from the British Heart Foundation.

Specialist cardiac nurses Lee-Anne Penn and Lisa Anderson are playing a leading role in the hospital's cardiology service and are already seeing between 20 and 30 patients a week.

Dealing with a diagnosis of heart disease can be overwhelming for some people. One of the nurses’ roles is to provide a prompt referral process so that any patient within the hospital has immediate access to specialist knowledge and advice. This direct connection with patients provides reassurance and information and helps improve patient quality of life.

The 2 nurses are part of the dedicated heart team run by the Island’s consultant cardiologist Dr Andrew Mitchell.

Both Lee-Anne and Lisa are able to provide support to patients who have different cardiac problems. In particular they will be seeing patients soon after heart attacks and helping the medical teams coordinate further investigations and treatments in Jersey and in the UK. They provide a follow-up service for patients following balloon angioplasty (stenting) and heart surgery through a dedicated cardiac rehabilitation service at Overdale Hospital. The nurses are also helping Dr Mitchell develop specialist services for patients with heart rhythm abnormalities and heart failure.
Lee-Anne explained "It is often the seriousness of having something wrong with your heart that makes patients fearful and anxious. That reassurance and the provision of expert advice and information prove invaluable. Part of our role is liaising closely with other people within the Health and Social Services Department; for example, the cardiac physiologists who undertake so many of the heart investigations, the smoking cessation service, and dieticians, all people that are linked in to provide a seamless cardiac service."

"Because the patients get to know us, they can say what their worries are" added Lisa. “We see patients make vast improvements in their recovery, and they quickly can become fitter and healthier. Statistically, following a heart attack, patients' lives are saved by making lifestyle changes and exercising regularly. Patients are surprised by their own ability to follow an exercise programme, and soon develop close bonds with each other. Some of the patients have formed a group called the Jersey Heart Support Group, and that gives them a place to answer each others' questions."

Dr Andrew Mitchell said "Specialist cardiac nursing is a vital part of modern cardiac care. Those patients who complete the cardiac rehabilitation programme have been shown to have a considerably higher chance of survival after a heart attack. We are incredibly grateful to the British Heart Foundation for their generous donation to enable us to set up our service.”

Both nurses are supported by mentors from the BHF as well as by the programme lead who visits Jersey quarterly. The BHF will be assisting with the clinical education of the nurses and arranging attendance at an educational conference that is run twice a year. The nurses use all the BHF information booklets and join in with events when possible. A business case is being submitted to the hospital to make sure this service is able to continue once the BHF funding runs out.

Before coming to Jersey 6 years ago, Lisa worked as a cardiac nurse in Glasgow, while Lee-Anne spent 20 years working as a cardiac and critical care nurse. She has worked in Jersey for 3 years.

Shai Davies, head of nursing services at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We’re convinced our specialist nurses will have a positive impact on patients living with coronary heart disease in Jersey. We fund the professional development of our nurses to make sure they can continue to deliver expert cardiac care."


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