Wisconsin VA program battling COPD highlighted in DC

Madison, Wisconsin VA pharmacist, Edward Portillo, discusses the success of his center's COPD...
Madison, Wisconsin VA pharmacist, Edward Portillo, discusses the success of his center's COPD program in helping veterans' health with Washington Correspondent Alana Austin. (Source: GrayDC)(GRAYDC)
Published: Oct. 24, 2019 at 2:56 PM EDT
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The Madison, Wisconsin VA Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Reduction program is being recognized at the Veterans Health Administration Shark Tank-style competition this week for innovative care programs.

COPD is a chronic lung disease that is the third-leading cause of death in the US, according to Madison VA pharmacist Edward Portillo. Veterans are three times as likely to suffer from this condition.

The Madison COPD program was singled out as a handful of the top-performing, cutting-edge medical programs for veterans around the country. It was selected as a top 15 program out of 500 applicants.

Edward Portillo, a pharmacist who works in this center, says it is designed to provide effective, post-discharge care for veterans who recently had a COPD flare-up.

Through integrated care among the health care team, Portillo finds veterans are seeing improvements in their health. They're also using smoking cessation and telehealth programs to help veterans improve their health.

"We want to make sure that our patients are empowered to manage their COPD well after their clinic visit," said Portillo.

The Madison program has expanded to six clinic locations across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, as well as to the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.

"The nice thing is if we provide patients with the right treatment and if patients are educated on how to best use their medicine, specifically inhalers, we can really make a dramatic impact on their care and on their lives," said Portillo.

The winner of the competition will have the chance to see their program replicated in every VA center in the nation.

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