The Irish Heart Foundation, in partnership with clinical nurse specialists around the country, has launched a new online support network for people living with heart failure and other heart conditions – at www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/. The initiative is supported by Novartis, Vifor Pharma and a group of pharmaceutical and other companies based in Ireland.
An estimated 90,000 people in Ireland live with heart failure, a highly debilitating, life-threatening condition which means that the heart is no longer working efficiently and doesn’t pump as well as it should. Heart failure patients are classified as an “at-risk group” by the HSE and may be more at risk of serious illness if they contract the coronavirus.
Heart failure is a condition which requires on-going management by patients and their hospital healthcare team, and patients regularly visit hospital to see their heart failure nurse. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, heart failure teams have moved to phone consultations where possible and in some cases even relocated their services to make them safer for patients to attend. However, some heart failure nurses have been redeployed to other areas of work to help combat the coronavirus.
Speaking today about the new online support network, Norma Caples, Lead Nurse for the National Clinical Programme for Heart Failure, said:
“The heart failure service is critical to keeping a particularly vulnerable patient cohort well in the community. Heart failure patients have reported to me that they are afraid to go to their GP or hospital in case of contracting COVID19. We need to try and manage their care as near as possible to their home. We must reassure and support them at this time.”
Lucinda McNerney, Patient Services Development Manager, Irish Heart Foundation, said:
“We’ve been hearing from heart failure patients around the country that they are extremely worried about potentially getting the coronavirus and the impact it would have on their health. Most patients are staying home and protecting themselves, but our concern is that as a result they are not getting the on-going support they need to manage their condition.”
“Over the coming weeks and months, if patients don’t receive support there is a risk that their condition may deteriorate, and they may have to be admitted to hospital. That would put added pressure on a healthcare system already under significant strain and would potentially put them at extra risk of contracting the virus.”
“For most heart failure patients, their heart failure nurse is like a member of the family – but most importantly that family member you actually listen to. In this challenging time, that relationship is more important than ever and with this online group we are giving patients and nurses a forum where they can keep in touch and share information and advice.”
“We wouldn’t be able to run these new services without the vital support of a group of pharmaceutical and other companies, led by our long-term partner Novartis, who have stepped up and made a commitment to support people living with heart disease and the effects of stroke during this unprecedented time.”
Audrey Derveloy, Managing Director, Novartis added:
“Novartis is delighted to support this new online support network for heart failure patients. People with heart failure are classified as an “at-risk group” by the HSE so we are very happy to collaborate with the Irish Heart Foundation to assist this group of people.”
The Irish Heart Foundation has a network of 26 in-person stroke and heart failure support groups around the country. These have been transitioned to online and telephone support for all group members. The charity also has a nurse support line available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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