Heart care in the right place
Heart disease does not discriminate, and many people don’t realize it can occur at any age.
Now the Culpeper community has access to a new office caring for patients with heart ailments. In January, Novant Health UVA Health System Culpeper Medical Center Cardiology opened a new location near the hospital’s newly renovated lobby.
“This is a way to bring excellent, top-of-the-line care to people without forcing them to go through the hustle and bustle of driving around to different places for care,” said Kwame Akosah, MD, clinical cardiologist at the Culpeper location. “If you need further advanced care — such as cardiac surgery or a transplant — you may have to travel for that.
“But we can continue the aftercare here, as close to home as possible. And because of our regional network, it’s easy to navigate.”
This idea of a continuity of care — being seen by the same doctor regularly and developing a personal relationship with that person — is important to the doctors and care teams at Novant Health UVA Health System. Having care close to home is a convenience that also makes it more likely for patients to make follow-up visits, which helps keep them healthier.
“I came from a very busy institution, and what’s really nice about our setup is not only do we have a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility, but it also has much more of a family feel. It allows us to really get to know our patients much better than you would at a larger institution,” said J. Cullen Hardy, MD, a clinical cardiologist who recently joined the team at Culpeper Medical Center Cardiology.
Building relationships, gaining trust
Joan Morris, an 87-year-old retired print shop owner from Brandy Station, Virginia, experienced this closeness firsthand after she started to feel dehydrated and weak. She was referred to Culpeper Medical Center Cardiology and ended up seeing Dr. Akosah.
“What I really liked about Dr. Akosah is he was so concerned about how I was feeling and what was going on with my body,” said Morris. “Without a doubt, he’s the most wonderful and compassionate doctor I’ve ever been to.”
Dr. Akosah diagnosed Joan with atrial fibrillation, a common heart issue characterized by a quivering or fluttering heartbeat, and treated her with medication. Soon the weakness she felt went away and she was able to get back to her regular life.
“When it first started, I was so weak that I could hardly do anything,” said Morris. “But that sure has changed. Dr. Akosah got me back to normal. I’m back walking and doing what I want.”
Putting patients first allows doctors at Novant Health UVA Health System to provide this kind of directed, compassionate care, said Dr. Hardy.
“A lot of medical offices are sort of getting people in and out, but we find the more patients know us, the more comfortable they feel telling us things and listening to our advice,” said Dr. Hardy. “And we see them out in the community as well, and get to know them as people. Gaining trust with our patients, with our staff and with other physicians is really important to us.”