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Heart health awareness can reduce your cardiac disease

Pictured are (left to right) Chris Whitaker, Dena Sparkman, Bridget Fleming and Eileen Sanders.

Pictured are (left to right) Chris Whitaker, Dena Sparkman, Bridget Fleming and Eileen Sanders.

In acknowledgement of February being National Heart Month, ARH Cardiology Associates shared information on heart health awareness and efforts to prevent cardiac disease with Rotary Club members during the February 26 meeting.

Dena Sparkman, CCEO at Whitesburg ARH, provided an overview of cardiology services available at Whitesburg ARH and Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, both healthcare entities in eastern Kentucky. She introduced cardiologist Adnan Bhopalwala, M.D.; Bridget Fleming, Cardiac Care Navigator; and Chris Whitaker, clinic manager for the ARH Cardiology Clinic located inside the Mountain Comprehensive Healthcare building. She said one of the strategic goals of ARH is to better navigate patients through the continuum of care. When done in cooperation with patients and providers, this type of care management results in patients being better satisfied with services, while effectively controlling expenses.

Bridget Fleming explained that the role of the Cardiac Navigator is to help patients and their families navigate what can be a confusing and frightening time when services are needed in an urgent situation. Her role as a Cardiac Navigator is to keep information flowing between all doctors involved, the patients, and their families. She said that it is rewarding to be able to see the relief she can bring to a situation.

According to the speakers, one of the many goals of ARH is to continuously work to improve the overall health, and specifically heart health, in the communities it serves. Currently, ARH employs three cardiologists in the Whitesburg community to service Knott, Letcher, southern Pike County and parts of Harlan County. ARH also has cardiac specialists, in a group known as One Heart, who can provide heart catheterizations and open heart surgery services at Hazard ARH. This is not only easier on families traveling with the patient, but also can be lifesaving in a cardiac emergency. ARH also strives to educate the community on cardiac issues by hosting smoking cessation courses and heart healthy luncheons. Frequent health fairs also feature information about heart health along with free screenings. Educational materials and contact information to access services were provided to Rotary members.

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