In May 2007, Ken Baumgartner ‘s physician told him to get his affairs together as he only had three months to live. A former Chicago fire fighter diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Baumgartner was quickly tiring of physicians. He then became a patient with Center for Hospice Care (CHC) where he remained a patient until his March 8, 2011 death. For almost three years after hearing his life would soon end, he met weekly with his nurse, Jean Shaw, RN, who was with him every step of the way.
One of the first patients to enroll in CHC’s specialty HeartWize program, Ken was amazed at his turnaround. “One of the first things we did was inventory his kitchen,” explained Shaw. “We lowered his sodium and got his medications under control.”
“Jean went through my cabinets and cupboards and really worked to teach me about nutrition,” Baumgartner explained. “My health was really declining. This HeartWize program added quality to my life. When Jean explained it to me, I thought, hey, I’m going to be around for awhile!”
Shaw explained that Baumgartner’s health was truly deteriorating when he became a CHC patient. “It was difficult at the beginning,” she remembered, “but we worked to get him to his optimal health for his disease. At first he was homebound, but all that changed.”
Up until March, Ken met daily with friends for breakfast, and enjoyed baking for his family and friends. He would even take his boat across the lake to visit a fellow firefighter who recently moved here from Chicago. And after enrolling in HeartWize, not once did he call the Emergency Room for any heart trouble nor did he call his physician in the middle of the night. The HeartWize program made such an improvement in his quality of life, that Ken wanted to share his story with others.
Ken and his nurse discuss his nutrition for the day. The HeartWize program is designed to offer patients with advanced heart disease an option for optimal management of their care. When patients with maximally treated heart disease would like to avoid further re-hospitalizations and are not candidates for further surgical procedures, the HeartWize program can assist the physician, patient and family to manage the symptoms of heart disease at home. For information, please call 800-467-7423.