To provide advanced heart failure treatment to patients in north Louisiana, Baylor Scott & White Health has established an outreach clinic in Shreveport. Since October 2022, Amarinder Bindra, MD, an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center (Baylor Dallas), part of Baylor Scott & White Health, sees six to eight new patients at each weekly visit.
“Patients in North Louisiana are a very underserved population with multiple risk factors for the development of heart failure,” Dr. Bindra says. “While there are excellent general cardiologists, there is not a heart failure subspecialist in the entire area. With this outreach clinic, we can bring the latest developments in the field to patients. After every visit, I call the patient’s cardiologist to update them on the treatment plan and share what we can do to help their patient.”
Dr. Bindra says he often finds himself making a unique diagnosis like amyloidosis or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Other times, he sees patients whose conditions are recalcitrant to medical therapy.
“For patients who are ill, it can be scary to pack up and go to a big city like Dallas,” says Timothy Gong, MD, FACC, section physician leader, advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology, Baylor Dallas. “By creating these outreach clinics, we can go into their communities where they have some degree of stability and familiarity. This helps create trust that our cardiologists are there to help support them and get them the therapy that they need.”
When patients’ heart failure is so advanced that medications are no longer effective, they are brought to Baylor Dallas for evaluation for a more advanced treatment option. In the past year, more and more patients are being brought to Baylor Dallas from outreach clinics in Louisiana and throughout Texas for evaluation for advanced options like a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or heart transplant. Since opening the Shreveport outreach clinic, one patient has had an LVAD implanted and two patients are on the waiting list for a heart transplant. Another patient is waitlisted for a heart/liver transplant. Most recently, a patient successfully underwent implantation of a total artificial heart.
“The total artificial heart is one of the most high-risk surgeries in the world of transplantation,” Dr. Gong says. “The patient was not stable enough to wait for a heart transplant, and she was sensitized, so it would have been difficult to find an appropriate match. Through our advanced program at Baylor Dallas, we were able to offer the patient an innovative device that saved her life. I’m happy to report that the patient is doing very well post procedure.”
Before the opening of the Baylor Scott & White outreach clinic, patients in north Louisiana did not have access to innovative options like the total artificial heart or dual organ transplantation, such as heart/kidney or heart/liver. “Because multi-organ transplants are more difficult than individual transplants, they require the high level of medical expertise and surgical skills found at major transplant centers,” Dr. Bindra says. Baylor Dallas is one of the few transplant centers in the country to offer this option to patients.”