VAD support group helps patients live life to the fullest

VAD support group helps patients live life to the fullest

The Northern Indiana Ventricular Assist Device Support Group at Elkhart General Hospital is available for area residents with VADs and their caregivers to connect with each other and learn from health care providers to help achieve a better quality of life.

Originally developed as a temporary means of circulating blood in heart failure patients awaiting heart transplant, the VAD was approved in 2010 as a destination therapy for end-stage heart failure patients meeting certain conditions. Nationally, the number of people with heart failure is expected to increase by 46 percent by 2030 according to the American Heart Association.

“The number of donor hearts available is very small compared to the need,” explains cardiology nurse practitioner Jill Newcomer, RN, BSN, MSN, NP-C, CHFN. “This treatment modality offers patients a chance to extend their lifespan as well as enjoy quality of life they used to have prior to their decline in cardiac health.”

During meetings, members learn from and inspire each other by sharing stories, experiences and ideas. Presentations by health care providers cover topics specific to VAD patients and their caregivers such as psychosocial support, dietary tips and recipes, exercising, traveling and maintaining intimacy in relationships, among others.

“In my experience with cardiology patients in general, I have found that emotional and social support is as important as medical care with living each day with chronic disease,” says Newcomer. “The sense of community created by our VAD support group can help all who participate learn to ultimately live life more fully.”

Learn More

The support group meets every other month on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Outpatient Heart Failure Clinic at Elkhart General. Area physicians with VAD patients on their service may contact Newcomer or Debbie Shemesh, FNP-C, for more information about the support group.

Jill Newcomer, RN, BSN, MSN, NP-C, CHFN
Cardiology Nurse Practitioner
Beacon Medical Group
Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists | RiverPointe
574.294.2621, ext. 3887
JNewcomer@BeaconHealthSystem.org

Debbie Shemesh, BSN, MSN, FNP-C
Cardiology Nurse Practitioner
Beacon Medical Group
Advanced Cardiovascular Specialists | RiverPointe
574.522.2284
DShemesh@BeaconHealthSystem.org

“In my experience with cardiology patients in general, I have found that emotional and social support is as important as medical care with living each day with chronic disease.” Jill Newcomer, RN, BSN, MSN, NP-C, CHFN

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