Patient Care

UR Medicine Earns National Accreditation for Pulmonary Hypertension Care

Jul. 20, 2016

UR Medicine received accreditation as a Comprehensive Care Center from the Pulmonary Hypertension Association in recognition of excellence in diagnosis, research and clinical care for this complex disease, a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and causes breathing problems, chest pain, heart failure and death.

The University of Rochester Medical Center is one of three programs in New York State and the only one outside New York City to earn the prestigious designation. The pulmonary hypertension team, led by R. James White, M.D., Ph.D., participated in a rigorous review of the collaborative clinical programs, including pulmonary, cardiology and rheumatology and demonstrated excellence in nursing and pharmacy.

“This is very important for our patients, their families and our community, which can be reassured that they are receiving the best, cutting-edge care,” said Patricia Sime, M.D., chief of the Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care, and the C. Jane Davis & C. Robert Davis Distinguished Professor in Pulmonary Medicine.  

R. James White, M.D., Ph.D.

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a rare, debilitating disease of the lungs that puts excess strain on the right heart and can lead to right heart failure and death. Many people see multiple physicians before they receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. The survival rate is less than three years for someone who is not receiving adequate treatment.

“There is an urgent need for physicians and centers to accurately diagnose, treat and support people with pulmonary hypertension,” said White, an expert in care and research into the disease. “We expect that the PHA accreditation and recognition will improve our connections with healthcare professionals throughout Upstate New York to ensure that more people living with pulmonary hypertension receive the right diagnosis early and accurately and that they get the very best care available.”

“We are happy to see patients who diagnosis remains uncertain, and work collaboratively with local physicians across upstate to optimize treatment strategies for people with confirmed disease,” he said. White is an associate professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Pharmacology and Physiology.

He has designed and led large clinical studies that have improved care for people with this challenging disease. He was recently co-author of a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrated combining two long-used therapies, rather than using either individually, significantly reduced hospitalizations and improved outcomes.

“URMC has built a strong reputation for innovation and research to find new medications for treating pulmonary hypertension, make smarter use of the drugs we currently have and extend survival,” White said. “This accreditation affirms our efforts over the last decade and reassures our patients that they are getting nationally recognized care here in Rochester.”

Karen Frutiger, R.N., Ali Theuer, R.N., and Brad Papa share patient care, support and research responsibilities with White, and the team has developed a reputation for excellence in use of the complex therapies that these patients often require. 

Most people receive care at the Mary Parkes Asthma Center  with a team led by Maureen Prince, R.N., M.S.N.  When patients are hospitalized at Strong Memorial Hospital, care is managed by the experienced staff on the 7-1200 unit, led by nurse manager Jill Sharp, R.N., and assistant nurse manager Quarnisha White, R.N., and supported by Jennifer Falvey, Pharm. D. 

“I could not be happier with our practice of medicine and our leaders in research,” White said. “I travel the world listening to other experts and sharing our valuable contributions.  I’m proud to say I work with terrific people and have the pleasure of practicing at a truly great academic medical center.”