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‘Game changer’ for patients on blood thinners

‘Game changer’ for patients on blood thinners
For about half her life, Bobbie Jean Ortiz has had to manage several problems associated with blood clotting.

While taking blood-thinning medications, Ortiz dealt with deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolisms, a six-inch blood clot under her clavicle and even one in her carotid artery. She also struggled to overcome lupus and factor V Leiden – which means her body develops abnormal blood clots often found in the legs or lungs.

At 32 years old, blood clotting issues also prevented Ortiz from having her own child. She’s now married – to her husband, Mike – with a step-daughter, Olivia, whom she cares for deeply.

Ortiz has lived in many places and sought treatment at a number of facilities. But it wasn’t until she moved to Danville and found Carle that she was able to find the help she needed.

Her “game-changer” came through Carle’s Anticoagulation Management Services (AMS). This group of specialized nurses oversees patients on chronic therapy with blood thinners like Warfarin and Coumadin.

“Before coming to Carle, I was in and out of the hospital a lot. You name it, and I had it,” Ortiz said. “Now, after working with AMS at Carle, the last time I was in the hospital was three years ago. The nurses there are on top of it.

“I feel 100 percent better in every aspect of my health, because no matter the time of day a nurse from AMS can help me.”

Patients referred to AMS receive comprehensive case management from certified nurses.

AMS Manager Dana Burns, RN, said certification and onboarding these nurses can take six to 12 months. Their expertise allows for collaborative work with the patient’s primary care provider and a feeling of ownership over this aspect of the patient’s care.

“Patients on blood thinners, like Warfarin or Coumadin, need close management,” Burns said. “Too much medication, and bleeding can be a major issue. Too little medication, and blood clotting occurs. We dose based on lab value, but we also look at many other things affecting what’s happening with the patient.

“We have to look at the whole patient, because even the smallest thing can affect the action of this medication.”

Most of their work comes through digital monitoring and phone calls. This means AMS nurses don’t typically engage in one aspect of patient care.

That’s the personal side of it.

Despite caring for patients, sometimes for years, the majority of care provided is by phone. That means the nurses may not know the extent to which they positively impact the patient’s life. To help bridge this gap, Burns conducts patient-satisfaction calls.

During these moments, she asks the patients about their experience and shares the details with staff.

In fact, that’s how Burns found out how Ortiz felt about the service from Carle AMS.

“It is so great to hear a personal success story, and how we’ve changed someone’s life in such a positive way,” Burns said. “During the call with Bobbie, she called her experience with AMS a ‘game-changer.’ I did share her words with our staff, and it was well received.

“I see how hard our nurses work to keep patients safe and satisfied with their care; it’s only fair they know others see it, too.”

Now that she’s not in and out of the hospital, Ortiz focuses on other areas of her life.

Olivia is in first grade, and, while they do like to hike together, Ortiz makes sure to rest along the way. She can still hike, despite the fatigue – something she wouldn’t have been able to do a few years ago.

She and her sister, Cathy Field, love to bake together. In fact, the two have their own business through Facebook. It's called The Dark Side of Baking, a name she said reflects their “geeky” nature.

“The confidence I have is because of their help,” Ortiz said of the AMS nurses. “I don’t have to go in to the hospital. I can just pick up the phone. There’s no copay, either, which is a huge relief. AMS is a support system, and they mother you in a certain way.

“I’ve been on the phone with them for more than a half hour before. Everything they’ve done for me is so nice to experience.”

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: AMS, Anticoagulation Management Services, blood thinners, Coumadin, Warfarin

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