Third Annual CF Roundtable Gratitude Dinner

On October 17th, during the NACFC conference in Denver, CO, CF Roundtable (USACFA) hosted a dinner event honoring 68 social workers and other CF Care team members.

It was hosted by our very own Beth Sufian, JD and an informative presentation was given by Isabel Stenzel Byrnes.

The evening ended with a Gratitude Ceremony recognizing the importance of the CF team members to the health and well being of people with CF. Many attendees said the evening was the highlight of their attendance at NACFC.

Halloween themed goodie bags were handed out to each attendee, which contained a tote bag, with a lung design created by our talented director, Ella Balasa.

A big thanks to everyone who attended!

We have a limited number of totes remaining. This #givingtuesday be one of our first donors and you can recieve one of our very limited edition totes when you donate $100 or more to CF Roundtable! First come, first served basis!

 

Have you talked to your CF Team about your sexual and reproductive health?

By: Georgia Brown

I often say that there is no modesty in medicine.  I mean, we routinely talk with medical professionals who are used to gross anatomy.  But I realized I was wrong when I broached sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues with my CF physician.

After I attended the CFF MiniCon on SRH, I was so energized by the honest discussions that I had handwritten notes to share at clinic the next day.  After giving an overview of the event, I listed items clinics should be talking about and offered my notes for use as a reference. Continue reading Have you talked to your CF Team about your sexual and reproductive health?

The open door policy – An important and under-recognized activity of the adult CF center

By Anna Sze Tai and Sue Morey

Improvement in survival in cystic fibrosis (CF) has led to a substantial increase in numbers of the adults with CF past few decades [12]. In many parts of the world, the number of adults now exceeds the numbers of children with CF [12]. Adults with CF face the daily challenge in balancing education, work and family commitments with their disease management. Patients often need to contact the Adult CF specialist team for advice on disease management and coordination of care around their work and family time-table. Current ECFS guideline recommends patients have ready access to the CF center for telephone advice for emergency management or consultation [34]. The ‘open-door’ policy of adult CF centers is an important component of ambulatory care in adults with CF, ensuring a timely and expert-level response to patient queries. Management of unscheduled patient-initiated contacts is an important and often under-recognized function of the adult CF team. There is a paucity of data on the nature and frequency of these unscheduled contacts and their potential impact (and demands) on the organization of the CF team.

In this issue of the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis, Burnet et al. reported the results of a two-staged prospective study of unplanned patient-initiated contacts in a single adult CF center (n = 410 patients) [5]. During the first stage, all patient-initiated contacts were prospectively recorded over a four-month period. Four physicians and three nurses prospectively documented how and why patients contacted the team and the time spent responding to these requests. During the second stage, contacts generated from a subset of 212 patients were prospectively recorded to explore the association between contact frequency and disease severity.

During the first stage, 259/410 (65%) patients initiated 1067 contacts over 4 months, averaging 13.3 contacts per day. Average time spent addressing patient contacts by all participants combined was 8 h and 7 min per work week. This was likely an underestimate given not all team members (e.g. allied health specialists) who might be contacted by patients participated, and data collection was limited to working hours during weekdays. Nevertheless, the result confirmed that managing unscheduled contacts added a significant workload to the CF team. Factors associated with greater contacts (≥5 contacts/year) included female sex and greater disease severity, reflected in severe airflow obstruction (FEV1 ≤ 30% predicted), ≥ 5 physician visits/year and ≥ 1 hospital admission/year.

The frequency of unscheduled contact in adults with CF was markedly higher than that observed amongst high-risk COPD patients, reflecting the greater healthcare demand of adults with CF [6]. Interestingly, only <20% of requests were related to medical issues (e.g. exacerbations), whereas the bulk of requests were related to daily management issues (e.g. script renewal), intravenous antibiotic requests, administrative queries and non-urgent miscellaneous matters. This perhaps reflects that the adult CF center has generally provided comprehensive, primary up to expert-level tertiary care to their adults with CF. The adult CF center can be viewed by the patient as ‘the one-stop shop’ for both their CF and non-CF related healthcare needs. Patients may not be aware of the need for a family physician for their non-CF related healthcare needs, including travel vaccinations, women health issues, age-specific screening (e.g. mammograms, monitoring for hypertension).

This is the first study which demonstrates the significant burden of unplanned contacts on the organization of the adult CF centre. The strength of the study is the prospective design which enables differentiation between planned and unplanned contacts. There was a comprehensive recording of response time in the clear majority of patient contacts (>95%) by the team members as they carry out their day-to-day services within a large CF centre which is an impressive undertaking. The key limitation is the single centre nature of the study which limits its comparability to other centres in other health settings internationally. Nevertheless, Burnet et al. has clearly revealed the burden of unscheduled contacts and highlighted the need for more efficient management strategies. Firstly, development of an effective centralised triaging system (e.g. collective ‘CF Team’ email inbox and phone line) managed by experienced CF staff who prioritise and streamline all incoming requests to appropriate team members can maximize efficiency of the CF team. Secondly, involvement of administrative staff to assist with relevant non-medical requests (e.g. clinic rescheduling, etc) will lighten the burden on the clinical team. Thirdly, ultilisation of new telecommunication and health informatics technologies can potentially improve communication and data transparency. Telehealth technologies (e.g. Smartphone apps, Skype or WhatsApp) have already shown significant promise in improving patient access to care and early treatment in CF, particularly in setting where distance from centre to the patients is considerable and pop-in clinics are likely to be impractical [[7][8][9]]. Some of these telehealth technologies can potentially serve as communication platforms to provide education resources on commonly-asked questions.

To continue reading please visit: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1569199318306982

Lessons From the Road: Avoid the ER

By: Sydna Marshall

A few weeks ago I found myself in the ER at midnight in a new city.  Let me backup the story a bit. I had planned a road trip to Dallas with my bestie (we’ll call her “A” for now) for a beauty conference. Two days before the trip I ran a 102.6 fever for the better part of the day. The morning of, as I was doing my treatments and finishing my packing, I felt the familiar band of pain around my chest. I mentally ruled it out as merely remnants of pain from my blockage earlier in the week and carried on with my morning. I drove the hour north to pick up A and start our trek up to Dallas. We stopped for tacos and queso along the way. I took some pain meds for that persistent and annoying band of pain. A few hours later, we checked into our hotel, picked up our beauty boxes for the conference, and had a happy hour cocktail in the bar followed by sushi in the rotating tower.

Fast forward to 9p: CF changes on a dime. Suddenly, that pesky band of pain that I’ve absently noticed and ignored for the day is front and center. I can barely take a breath, much less a full breath, post-treatment. By 11p, I’ve laid in bed silently crying as the pain spikes up to an 8 and then back to a 6. It dawns on me that the band of pain is pleuritic pain. After texting multiple Cysters and weighing the pain with the inability to breathe, my recent 20% drop in lung functions and the fever I ran earlier, I finally make the decision to wake up A (who is for once sleeping peacefully, without interruptions, in the absence of her four kiddos) and have her drive me to the ER.

We arrive at the ER with this naïve idea that my CF clinic, albeit on-call at this late hour, will communicate with the CF clinic in Dallas. I’d already given A all of the information, phone numbers, and instructions for getting everyone, including my husband Adam, on the same page. Over the course of the evening and early morning hours, hundreds of texts and calls between A, Adam, and the on-call care team at home transpire in an effort to expedite the process.  Since it’s not my first rodeo with pleuritic pain, I’ve already determined before we even got settled in the ER that I desperately need instant-relief pain meds and a chest X-ray. Am I the only one who self-diagnoses? When you’re in and out of the doctor for the litany of health problems in addition to CF, you become the expert on your own body. I digress.

Over the course of the 12 hours in the ER, my port is accessed a total of four times, with one of them being a needle repositioning, before we get anywhere. To administer IV medication and run blood tests, two different nurses start dueling peripheral lines, one in my left hand and the other in my right elbow.  Meanwhile, other nurses attempt to get my port working, which won’t flush or draw back blood. My vein blows on one of the lines, and the other is dangerously close. I have a chest X-ray taken, a CT scan with contrast of my lungs, every blood test imaginable, an EKG, several rounds of morphine, two doses of vancomycin and two albuterol treatments.  I’m told I have a potential pulmonary embolism, a virus causing pleurisy, a mucus plug, or sepsis. Twelve hours in, and about 10 minutes after Adam arrives at the Dallas ER, my repeated requests to be moved to my home clinic, care team, and hospital are heard and I’m care-flighted from Dallas back home (Adam has to drive back home). Once admitted to my home hospital, they have me repeat nearly every test the Dallas ER did less than 24 hours prior as none of my medical records transferred with me from the ER. Five days later the medical records from the ER finally make their way to my home hospital and care team.  In the end, it was determined that I had a virus, which accounted for the difficulty in breathing, pleuritic pain, and fever. It was a very long, traumatic, stressful, and a trying 12 hours away from home. And, I missed my conference entirely, but that’s another story.

I’ve since had some time to reflect on this jaunt to the ER. The biggest takeaway for me – CF clinics do communicate but getting the ER to communicate with the CF care team is nearly impossible.  Having a port is a blessing, but it requires orders from your doctor, not just any doctor, to access and use heparin or cath flow in the event that it’s not working properly (or, in my case, repeatedly accessed incorrectly).  I learned that complaining of chest pain at a new hospital where none of my medical records are accessible means a round of tests to rule out heart problems, despite knowing that it’s my lungs. I learned that transferring medical records from one hospital to another is a royal pain in the you-know-what.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but I know I could have avoided the entire debacle if only I had heeded my inner voice the morning I left for Dallas when I first felt the band of pain around my lungs.  For me, it’s often hard to gauge when it’s important to say no and upend plans, especially when it impacts friends and family around me. If a trip to Walgreens completes a vacation in my house, am I an overachiever for my trip to the ER?