VHAN RN Care Navigator and Clinical Pharmacist Work Together to Help Patient Identify Heart Attack Risk

VHAN’s RN Care Navigators are trained to help patients find their way through a complex health care system. But beyond untangling health care’s confusing details, these professionals also exhibit compassion for every patient they encounter, listening and showing genuine concern that’s as powerful as any prescription.

In one recent case of a 58-year-old female patient with a history of hypertension and type 2 diabetes, an RN Care Navigator’s quick thinking and intentional listening skills were life-saving. Originally referred for diabetes management, the patient needed immediate help with her blood pressure management as well. The patient had experienced negative side effects from her blood pressure medications in the past, which complicated treatment.

The RN Care Navigator on the case reached out to a VHAN clinical pharmacist, who tried several medications to control the patient’s elevated blood pressure. After missing her next scheduled check-in, the patient returned the care navigator’s call in the evening and described leg cramps caused by her new medication. The patient also complained of a sharp pain in her back that radiated to her arms and eventually to her jaw. These symptoms were followed by indigestion and chest pressure.

Recognizing heart attack symptoms, the care navigator referred the patient to a nearby Vanderbilt walk-in, where her EKG was positive for an old anterior infarction. She was immediately taken to a local emergency department where she underwent a successful stent placement.

While VHAN’s RN Care Navigators typically help patients solve specific challenge, one of their most important skills is the ability to listen carefully to patients’ concerns—and quickly call in reinforcements when those concerns point to serious, life-altering complications.

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