Lourdes launches two chronic care centers for COPD patients in Willingboro, Evesham
04/03/2018 08:17 AM

Burlington County residents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD, have two new places where they can get treatment.

Lourdes Health System has opened two chronic care centers — in Willingboro and Evesham — to specifically treat and assist those dealing with the respiratory disease.

“Medicare’s really put a focus on improving care for COPD patients,” said Candace Bromley, the physician assistant in charge of the centers. “Their first really big push was heart failure, and they made an improvement in that. Now COPD, the death rate is rising for COPD, so that’s why they picked COPD to be the next big focus.”

It was the third-leading cause of death in the United States in 2015, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COPD is “a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs,” according to the CDC. It’s traditionally caused by smoking or repeatedly inhaling other harmful particles, such as fumes and dust from industrial factory work, Bromley said.

About 15.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, according to the CDC. The center estimated that in 2014, the most recent year data was available, between 4.8 and 5.6 percent of New Jersey residents age 18 and older had the disease.

COPD often causes shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and frequent respiratory infections, which can also lead to depression and anxiety because patients don’t want to leave their homes, Bromley said.

The goal of the new centers is to provide better treatment options, even for those with minor cases; teach those with COPD how to properly use their medications, depending on the severity of their disease that day; and keep sufferers out of the hospital unless it’s critical.

“I like to look at it as a six-week intensive so even patients who have COPD but are stable would still benefit from coming,” Bromley said. “You are educated more about COPD. We come up with an action plan about what medicines to take on a good day; what medicines to take on a bad day; what happens when you’re feeling really, really horrible; and (we’ll) have all those things already at home at the patient’s disposal.”

Bromley said patients with COPD often are used to coughing because they were smokers, so they don’t properly treat their chronic condition. When they catch a cold or the flu, it can often be exacerbated by the disease, forcing them to be rushed to the hospital.

“Even patients who have mild COPD can have a life-threatening exacerbation and end up in the ICU,” she said.

The two centers can provide nebulizer treatments, in which a patient inhales a mist-type substance into their lungs; vaccines; hospital follow-ups; education and spirometry testing, which measures airflow into and out of the lungs.

?(This) way, we can try to keep people out of the hospital, because when they are in the hospital, they are at risk for picking up other infections,” she said.

Bromley and her staff of three will run both facilities, at least at the start. The Willingboro center is across the street from the hospital inside a Lourdes-run office building. The Evesham center is next to the practice of Lourdes pulmonologist Thomas Nugent, who will also provide care at the centers.

“Patients who have COPD, who may or may not also have diabetes, chronic kidney disease, dementia or exacerbation of heart failure, are welcomed to come in for an assessment,” Nugent said in a statement. “Our goal is to stabilize the patients’ overall condition, improve their quality of life, and teach patients self-management skills they can apply in their home environment.”

Traditionally, COPD patients are in their 60s and 70s, but Bromley believes the population could get younger.

Those who have moved from overseas countries that had poor air quality are at risk of developing the disease, as are babies who were born prematurely in the United States and suffered lung damage, she said. Asthmatics often can develop COPD as well, Bromley added.

“Those are all risk factors for COPD, so they anticipate the age is going to get younger with the next generation,” she said.

The Willingboro Chronic Care Center, at 1113 Hospital Drive, Professional Building East, Suite 305, is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Evesham Chronic Care Center, on Route 73 South in the Willow Ridge Executive Park, Suite 402, is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 609-835-3450.

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