UNC first in the state to achieve accreditation by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association

The UNC Pulmonary Hypertension Program has been awarded accreditation as a Pulmonary Hypertension Comprehensive Care Center by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, the nation’s leading pulmonary hypertension organization. UNC is the only facility in North Carolina to achieve this designation, and one of only two in the Southeast.

UNC first in the state to achieve accreditation by the Pulmonary Hypertension Association click to enlarge H. James Ford, MD and Lisa Rose-Jones, MD

Media Contact: Jamie Williams, jamie.williams@unchealth.unc.edu, 984-974-1149

H. James Ford, MD, director of the Pulmonary Hypertension program said that this designation will continue to raise the profile of UNC’s program.

“We are committed to providing the highest quality, comprehensive care to our patients and so it is incredibly rewarding to be recognized with this accreditation,” Ford said.

On July 18th, Ford will appear on the Your Health radio show to discuss the accreditation and the work of the UNC Pulmonary Hypertension Program.

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare and debilitating disease of the lungs that affects the functioning of the heart and can lead to right-sided heart failure. Due to the relative rarity of the condition, the timeframe from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis is typically more than a year, with many patients developing advanced symptoms by the time they receive an accurate diagnosis.

As part of the accreditation criteria, medical centers must be able display a dedication to proper diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension and the capacity to appropriately and comprehensively care for patients, including to offer all 12 FDA-approved treatments for the disease.

Ford, a pulmonologist, highlights the approach to treating pulmonary hypertension as a major reason for the program’s success. He works closely with cardiologist Lisa Rose-Jones, MD, to make sure patients get comprehensive care.

“We work very closely with cardiologists and others in a truly multidisciplinary way,” Ford said. “A lot of places don’t do that.”

Rose-Jones and Ford see patients in the UNC Pulmonary Specialty Clinic, located in Meadowmont.

“Dr. Ford and I are both there in the clinic at the same time and can work together to evaluate patients and review test results. It’s a win-win for patients,” Rose-Jones said. “We have patients coming from all over the state and region, and they need to know that all treatment options are available to them and that we as a team are going to give them the best care for their individual needs.”

Rose-Jones said that she hopes this recognition will serve as a point of validation for patients.

“My hope is that patients are going to see this as an assurance that they will get quality care in a way that has been looked at extensively by a national group and given the seal of approval,” she said.

The process that went into getting that seal of approval took around six months to complete with a site review conducted by an expert pulmonary hypertension physician and coordinator, and a detailed analysis of the UNC program by a committee of global leaders in the field of pulmonary hypertension.

There are two types of accreditation: Centers of Comprehensive Care and Regional Clinical Programs. UNC has been accredited as a Center of Comprehensive Care, which Ford said is the more rigorous.

As a Center of Comprehensive Care, UNC will be linked to other accredited facilities in an effort to increase collaboration in the pulmonary hypertension community through clinical, quality improvement and investigative partnerships. UNC will contribute to a national registry of Pulmonary Hypertension patients, tracking diagnostic and treatment patterns in an effort to improve quality care.

Locally, Rose-Jones said that she and Ford will continue to conduct outreach efforts to providers, helping increase awareness of the disease in the hope of decreasing the time it takes for patients to receive and accurate diagnosis.

More information on the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and a full list of accredited institutions can be found here.

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