When Navy Veteran Jack Pinkston had a heart attack 12 years ago, he had to undergo a quadruple bypass. This marked the beginning of a long journey that he and his spouse would travel together with the help of VA.

“After a quadruple bypass, he did good for many years. Then about three years ago, he started having trouble again,” said Jack’s wife, LaVonne Pinkston. “We were in and out of the hospital and had emergency room visits frequently. Things were especially hard when COVID-19 hit.”

Seeing the need for additional support, Pinkston’s physician referred him to the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Clinic. Gene Richison, APRN, and Jessica Morton, RN, were waiting to give the Pinkstons the extra care and support they needed.

VA Nurse with Veteran heart patient

Nurse Jessica Morton and Jack Pinkston

The CHF Clinic at the Jack C. Montgomery VA was established by Richison in September 2020. LaVonne Pinkston credits the clinic with helping her husband improve.

Prevented eight hospital admissions

The newly created Outpatient Diuresis Clinic has been a game changer for the Pinkstons.

The Diuresis Clinic, developed and managed by Morton, began in January as an extension of the CHF Clinic. Working as a team with Richison, Morton says they have successfully treated eight Veterans and prevented eight hospital admissions since the clinic’s launch.

“With heart failure, fluid builds up because the body’s heart isn’t operating as strongly as it normally would,” said Morton. “Diuresis is when we give the Veteran’s medications through their IV. This eases the swelling and water buildup caused by heart failure. Medical staff use diuretics in the treatment of heart failure due to their ability to greatly improve a variety of symptoms caused by the condition.

“In Mr. Pinkston’s case, it has helped change his daily activities at home. He went from not being able to get out of his chair to now being able to walk short distances outside.”

Serving 400 Veterans in Eastern Oklahoma

The two clinics serve approximately 400 Veterans throughout the Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System, including clinics in Idabel and McAlester.

“Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalizations in the U.S. annually,” said Morton. “Our goal is to spread the word about this new clinic. If we can increase Veteran participation, we can prevent more hospitalizations and re-admissions.”

The Pinkstons can now get treatment on an outpatient basis rather than spending hours as an inpatient.

“When we started going to the CHF Clinic, we saw a massive improvement,” said LaVonne. “Now, with the addition of the Diuresis Clinic, they can take care of him right here in the clinic without the overnight stay in the hospital.

“My questions are answered immediately.”

“With the VA messaging system, I contact them and my questions are answered immediately,” Jack said. “The amount of information we get to make sure Jackie stays healthy and continues to thrive has been just phenomenal. We gained an additional support system, and that is priceless.”

The Pinkstons are hoping that by sharing their experience, they can help bring awareness of the new clinic for other Veterans who may be in a similar situation.

“If you have heart problems, you might need this clinic,” Jack said. “I would encourage you to ask your primary care doctors about what options are available for you. This whole health care system has been a lifesaver for us and I don’t know what we would do without them, especially Jessica and Gene. They are our angels.”

By Tiffani Mathews is a communications specialist for the Eastern Oklahoma VA

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Published on Jul. 12, 2022

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