Published on March 01, 2018

Parkview takes on hundreds of new Coumadin patients

(Pueblo, CO, March 1, 2018) –  Taking on more than 400 new patients isn’t a simple task, but it was an easy decision for Parkview Medical Center.

Matt TheilbarMatt Thielbar

In the past few months, Parkview has welcomed in hundreds of new patients taking an anticoagulant medication that needs routine monitoring to keep their blood in the sweet spot between not too thin and not too thick.

Parkview Medical Center’s Coumadin clinic has been providing this service for close to two decades and had been growing slowly until the first of the year, when Centura Health made the decision to shut down its Coumadin clinics at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center and St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City.

“There were probably about 400 patients each at their clinics,” said Matt Thielbar, Parkview Pharmacist who manages Parkview’s Coumadin Clinic on Club Manor Drive. “In a month-and-a-half we had taken on 365 new patients.”

Thielbar said there are about 15 new referrals coming in each week and the new patients are coming in from throughout Southern Colorado, including Walsenburg, Westcliffe, Salida and Fort Garland.

Taking on more than 400 new patients in the span of a few months wasn’t easy. A new pharmacist was hired – Parkview’s pharmacists rotate shifts at the clinic -- and part-time staff were promoted to full time.

“As soon as we found out their clinics were closing, we were working on getting a plan in place,” Thielbar said. “We’re here to take care of our community. You can’t dump 400 patients and say ‘You’re on your own.’”

Within three days, Parkview administration made the changes necessary to take on the new patients.

“Since St. Mary-Corwin has chosen to eliminate more community services, it hasn’t been easy taking on a large number of new patients in service lines such as labor and delivery, inpatient rehabilitation services and now Coumadin; where hospitals today cannot make money, but at Parkview it wasn’t a hard decision either,” said Vince Vigil, chairman of the Parkview Health System Board of Directors. “These are our friends, our family, our neighbors. We are Puebloans first and if we’re committed to providing Pueblo and Southern Colorado the highest quality health care, then we remain committed to providing these necessary services, and in the end working diligently to manage the additional financial challenges.”

Coumadin’s generic name is Warfarin. The drug is used to help prevent blood clots from forming in a patient, which can lead to catastrophic results such as stroke and heart attack.

Patients who are prescribed the drug must be monitored regularly. Too much Coumadin can leave the blood too thin, putting patients at risk of severe bleeding, while too little Coumadin runs the risk of new blood clots forming.

Getting the right dosage dialed in requires frequent blood tests. The pharmacist sticks a patient’s finger, takes the blood sample and tests for how quickly it coagulates. The results help pharmacists determine dosages and adjustments and that information is reported to the patient’s physician.

There are other factors the pharmacists must consider as well, including the patient’s diet, other prescription drugs he or she may be taking as well as alcohol and marijuana use.

“Very small changes can make huge impacts on clotting time,” Thielbar said.

So while pharmacists are testing the clotting time of a patient’s blood, they also gather information about potential changes in diets or prescriptions that may have an impact on Coumadin’s efficacy.  A full appointment can vary in length depending on how much information is needed, but initial appointments take about an hour.

Thielbar said that when patients are first prescribed the drug, they typically report to the clinic at least once a week. Some long-term patients can come in every two months.

Thielbar said 80 percent of Parkview’s Coumadin patients are on the drug for their lifetimes.

The Parkview clinic is now seeing between 75 and 90 patients a day and the clinic’s waiting room was expanded.

“That’s the huge advantage of being a private, independently operated hospital,” Thielbar said. “We had a decision to expand our services in a few minutes rather than days, weeks or months.”

About Parkview Medical Center

Founded in 1923, Parkview Health System in Pueblo, Colorado, offers general acute healthcare and health specialty services. As a private, non-profit organization, Parkview is licensed for 350 beds and provides a full range of healthcare services including a verified Level III Trauma Center along with exceptional comprehensive cardiac and orthopedic care. Parkview Health System is the leader in all service lines in our service area. As a vital healthcare source, Parkview’s service area includes Pueblo County and 14 surrounding counties, which together represent 370,000 total lives.

Parkview Health System is the largest non-government, nonprofit, private sector employer in Pueblo County with approximately 3,000 employees and provides a skilled medical staff of over 370 physicians. The impact of our workforce triggers a strong impact on the community as Parkview’s annual payroll contributes $232 million to the economy.