Congestive heart failure is one of those medical conditions that has patients in and out of emergency rooms constantly. That’s tough on the Navajo Nation, where hospitals are few and far between. So Flagstaff Medical Center, Qualcomm Incorporated, Zephyr Technology, Verizon Wireless and the National Institutes of Health have formed an unprecedented health care partnership to come up with a solution.
Garrickson Begay is 37. He was diagnosed with diabetes at 21. A predisposition to it and a diet of fast food led to obesity, chronic kidney disease and congestive heart failure.
“It’s scary but then you take it in perspective that you’re glad you’re still alive,” Begay said.
Begay has lost track of how many times he’s been rushed to the hospital. And living on the Navajo Nation, 60 miles away from the facility, often means traveling by emergency helicopter and spending many nights hooked up to machines.
“I’ve cried, literally cried in the hospital because I miss my family,” Begay said.
These emotional costs and financial costs — hospital stays, flights, ambulance rides — add up for patients with congestive heart failure: About $1 million per patient.