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New Clinic Game Changer for Veteran and Spouse

Navy Veteran Jack Pinkston (center), and wife LaVonne Pinkston (right), pose for a photo with Jessica Morton, RN, during a routine visit to the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.

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 LaVonne Pinkston, his wife. “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 over to the Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Clinic. That is where Gene Richison, APRN, and Jessica Morton, RN, were waiting to give the Pinkstons the extra care and support they needed.

The CHF Clinic at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center was established by Richison in September 2020. Mrs. Pinkston credits the clinic with helping her husband improve substantially, but it is the newly created Outpatient Diuresis Clinic that has been a game changer for them.

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. Diuretics are used 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.”

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 we have to offer. If we can increase Veteran participation, we can prevent more hospitalizations and re-admissions.”

Fewer hospitalizations are something the Pinkston’s are finding much value in. He can now get his 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 Pinkston’s wife. “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 we would have before. I just have to contact them, and they will take care of us.”

The Pinkston’s have newfound peace of mind thanks to the new Diuresis Clinic, teamwork, and collaboration of two caring VA medical professionals.

“With the VA messaging system, I can contact them, and my questions are answered immediately,” she 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 Pinkston’s are hoping that by sharing their experience, they can help bring awareness to the new clinic for other Veterans who may be in a similar situation.

“If you have heart problems, you might need this clinic,” said Pinkston. “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.”

For more information about the CHF Clinic or Diuresis Clinic, call and ask to speak to your Primary Care Team about getting a consult at 1-888-397-8387

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