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Donations Helping Track Heart Patients

The Difference Donors Make

For CVPH cardiology patients, a relatively small device is having a big impact on the care they receive. And thanks to generous members of the community taking part in The Foundation of CVPH’s annual “Stepping Out for Your Heart” fundraiser, even more patients are able to benefit from those devices.

They’re known as Holter monitors, which are a type of portable electrocardiogram (ECG) that records the electrical activity of the heart continuously from 24 to 96 hours. A standard, or “resting” ECG is one of the simplest and fastest tests used to evaluate the heart.

Bridget LaPier, Cardiology Technician at CVPH for 14 years, noted how helpful the Holter monitors can be for physicians trying to get a clearer picture of a patient’s heart health.

“They can get a rate control to see if the medications they put the patient on are working,” LaPier said. “They can diagnose different arrhythmias. Doctors can also get a better idea if a patient’s symptoms are heart-related, or if something else is going on.”

Patients who are asked to wear the devices also enjoy a number of benefits.

“For many, it’s peace of mind to make sure they’re not going into a lethal rhythm. We have caught AFib (atrial fibrillation) in some patients, and that’s a big deal, because that brings a risk of strokes and other life-threatening problems,” LaPier offered.

She also pointed out that the monitors used for two, three or four days make the care more convenient and save significant money for patients. In the past, when a physician required a patient to wear the Holter monitor for more than one day, that patient had to return to the hospital each day to get a new one. For some patients coming from places like Massena, that’s a lot of driving back-and-forth. In addition to gas money, wear-and-tear on the car and time spent traveling, some patients also have a co-pay with every return trip. That all adds up quickly.

Over the past few years, the CVPH Heart Center has added longer duration monitors to the mix, giving much more flexibility to physicians. LaPier said they bring more immediacy to care, allowing patients to get on the devices right away instead of having to make another appointment. They have also increased access, with an average of 60 patients a week currently using them. That’s more than 3,100 cardiology patients each year in our region getting the care they need with the help of the monitors.

This is where donors have made a big difference. Contributions to the “Stepping Out for Your Heart” event helped purchase four 48-hour Holter monitors for a total cost of $6,596 at the end of 2019. LaPier, who made the request to The Foundation to help pay for the devices, continues to be grateful for the organization and all of its supporters who have made such a big difference in the care of cardiology patients across the North Country.

“It’s all about the patients,” LaPier said. “Every year, we are able to apply for a grant from The Foundation and get things that make the patient experience better. Everybody (in the heart center) writes their ideas down every year for what we want to do for our patients and then we all vote on what will have the most impact.”

She also understands that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people in the community are worried about their finances and may be debating whether they can afford to donate. LaPier wants to remind everyone that no amount is too small – every donation matters.

“It doesn’t matter what the amount is, whether it’s $5, $10, anything. It definitely helps the community and the patients. And, you feel good about it. Many of us (in the CVPH Heart Center) donate because it’s what is best for our patients,” LaPier added.

Hear patients talk about their care and experience at the CVPH Heart Center by clicking here. The seventh annual “Stepping Out for Your Heart” event organized by The Foundation of CVPH will be held virtually this year on February 11, with a virtual silent auction open from February 8-11. Included in this year’s event are an online yoga class, an online cooking class and a special presentation from CVPH Cardiologist Joel Wolkowicz, MD on the differences in heart attacks between men and women. All of those events are free and open to the public. Proceeds benefit the CVPH Heart Center and directly impact the care of its patients. To learn more about the event and how you can participate, visit the event website.