It’s Heart Failure Awareness Week, and we’re highlighting staff at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre who play a vital role in caring for patients who are living with heart failure. Today, we’re sharing some Q&A with Kathryn Bill, a Nurse Practitioner in the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Telehomecare Program.
What does it take to be a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in the CHF Telehomecare Program?
After working as a Registered Nurse (RN), I went back to school for further education to become a Nurse Practitioner as well as getting my Masters of Nursing degree. My nursing background included ten years of working in telemetry, both as a travel nurse and a staff nurse at McKellar General Hospital, and over ten additional years of experience as a RN in the Intensive Care Unit.
What is unique about your role?
As a NP with the CHF Telehomecare Program, I am able to remotely monitor a patient who has heart failure from the comfort of their home. I can monitor their vital signs and their weight daily for subtle changes or trends, which might indicate a worsening or change in their condition. I can then make changes to their medications or provide counselling on their diet which may help to slow the progression of the heart failure and possibly prevent hospitalization.
What inspired you to work in cardiac care?
I was inspired to work in cardiac care because there is a strong history of heart disease in my family. As well, I am aware that heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, and I feel privileged to work in the ever-changing dynamic field of cardiac medicine.
How does your role impact patient care?
By being able to interact with patients via the telephone, I can help alleviate and address concerns and needs that patients may have, without the patients having to make an emergent hospital visit. This helps prevent some patients from “falling through the cracks”, and can help reduce the stress on the patient and on the health care system.
On the concept of practice what you preach, do you have any personal tips on how to stay heart healthy?
It is very important to maintain heart health by trying to stay active daily. I like to go for bike rides or hikes with my family when it is feasible to. Even during this period of isolation due to COVID-19, it is important both for physical and mental health, to go for walks and to just get out into nature and enjoy the fresh air.
Any final thoughts?
Heart disease can be a very isolating and lonely disease. I feel grateful through my position that I am able to provide assistance and reassurance to patients in need.