Pawhuska IHS wins national award for best practices in heart care

The Pawhuska Indian Health Clinic didn’t set out to win the Million Hearts Award, but their good work was noticed, they were nominated and won.

The 2013 Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge was a national competitive challenge to identify and recognize practices, clinician’s and health systems that have demonstrated exceptional achievements in working in getting at least 70 percent of their patients with hypertension under control, according to the Million Hearts website.

“It is exciting to be nationally recognized for positive patient outcomes as we implement new strategies for patient centered healthcare,” said April Gothard, Pawhuska IHS Unit Director. The clinic was notified in April of their award. “I’m proud of the Pawhuska Indian Health Center Team for the dedication and focus they have given to doing what is best for our patients.”

The challenge aimed to identify and recognize high performing practices and systems that achieved hypertension control among patients, improve understanding of successful implantation strategies and motivate team members, including patients to intensify their hypertension control efforts.

The Pawhuska clinic was chosen for the Million Hearts award by using measurable success with increased blood pressure control from 66.7 percent to 73.2 percent in 2013, according to a prepared release. The staff used a clinic-wide approach to assist patients to reach a healthy goal. They incorporated the pharmacy, dental, optometry and behavioral health departments in the plan, Gothard said. 

“‘CHOOSE LIFE’ in the battle against Hypertension – we are the patient’s allies. Their health care team must provide support in their effort against Hypertension by providing any assistance we can, including but not limited to patient education on a vast array of topics,” said Michael Shackleford in an email, an RN for the clinic. “The patient’s responsibilities are numerous, they must make lifestyle adaptions including: nutritional modifications, medication administration, home monitoring, routine follow-up visits with their primary care provider and continue or begin an exercise program.

“To be successful against this silent killer, the patient must continue the changes they make throughout their lives, this is not a sprint, it is a marathon that lasts their whole life and we must be with them for every step of their journey,” Shackelford said.

The clinic used electronic charting to target the high-risk patients so they could improve communication throughout the clinic regarding patient care, Gothard said.

The different departments throughout the clinic participated, primarily the medical and pharmacy and the Osage Nation Nursing Program – however the Dental, Optometry and Behavior Health were participants with a referral, Gothard said.

The Pawhuska IHS staff reached their goals and their mission was already in place based on the 2013 clinical performance, said Dr. John Farris, Chief Medical Officer for the Oklahoma City Area IHS in a prepared release. He is also the man who nominated them for the Million Hearts Award.  

The Pawhuska clinic staff utilized the pharmacy to offer blood pressure checks, medication counseling and review, adjustments until patients reached a therapeutic range, Gothard said.

The clinic hopes by achieving these goals and results that national recognition will reinforce the importance to their patients to achieve their individual goals for good health, Gothard said.