Heart failure clinic launches with donor support

April 29, 2021

The goal of a new heart failure clinic at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center is to keep community members at home and out of the hospital. Our donors are helping make that mission a reality.

The new clinic launched in March of this year, thanks to generous gifts through the Sanford Health Foundation. Just one month later, more than 40 patients are already benefiting.

“Heart failure can be a daunting diagnosis,” said Nicholle Bieberdorf, cardiology clinic manager. “Heart failure means that the heart is failing to meet the demands of the body. It isn’t a disease a person gets cured from, but it is certainly something that can be managed with help. Our focus is to help patients manage their condition at home and keep patients out of the hospital.”

Similar programs have proved successful throughout the Sanford footprint, but funding wasn’t in place to launch the program in Bemidji. With gifts through the Foundation, donors helped bring the program to the community.

“It’s been part of our plan to be more purposeful and provide that support to patients with the goal of keeping them out of the hospital, we just haven’t been able to until now.” Nicholle said.

Donor gifts support the role of a nurse navigator dedicated to the heart failure clinic as well as scales, blood pressure cuffs and other needs for heart failure patients.

“Some patients are barely able to walk room to room, but with the right medication and lifestyle changes, we can get them back to an active lifestyle,” said Jen Gieser, the clinic’s full-time nurse navigator.

When a patient is diagnosed and referred to the heart failure clinic, Jen starts by following up with the individual once a week with a combination of phone and in-person visits. She gives guidance about diet and exercise, helps with medication management and blood pressure monitoring, and encourages patients to keep going.

“As a nurse navigator, Jen helps break out the large volume information a patient receives once they are diagnosed into manageable pieces so they can get a better handle on managing their condition,” Nicholle said.

Before becoming the heart failure nurse navigator, Jen worked with heart patients on the telemetry unit. She also has a personal passion for heart care after watching her late mother suffer from heart failure.

“It’s my passion to help these people,” Jen said. “I know how this diagnosis impacts not just the patient but their family. It’s so fulfilling to see them get better while staying at home, where they want to be.”

With your support, we can continue to expand local heart services and better care for our loved ones close to home. Give to support cardiovascular care today.