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Winchester Center for Lung Disease is Flourishing Since Opening in 2021

November 27, 2023
by Christina Frank

The Winchester Center for Lung Disease (WCLD) opened in March 2021 at the North Haven Medical Center to improve access to exceptional care for more people with lung conditions. The expanded facilities at the Winchester Center have allowed expansion of subspecialized pulmonary care as well as access to a wide array of multidisciplinary services, more than what was possible at the original Winchester Chest Clinic (WCC) on Yale New Haven Hospital’s York Street Campus.

“The new location has been incredible for us, for our patients, and for our staff,” said Jennifer Possick, MD, associate professor of medicine (pulmonary) and director of WCLD. “It’s allowed us to do so many things that we had not been able to before without expansion of our physical space and resources. We are also now able to grow additional programs that offer personalized care to patients with specific needs, such as those with new respiratory issues related to recent critical illness, underlying neuromuscular diseases, chronic infections, or those receiving oncologic therapies for malignancy. Most importantly, we are able to improve access for patients with undifferentiated respiratory symptoms searching for a diagnosis.”

With 10,000 square feet of space, the Center—a joint partnership with Yale Department of Internal Medicine’s Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine (Yale-PCCSM) and Yale New Haven Health—has tripled its capacity to treat patients. The Center has 20 exam rooms (WCC has six) and an expanded pulmonary function lab facility. Patients are also able to engage with research staff in a seamless manner, allowing improved access to both clinical trials and translational research.

“At Yale-PCCSM, we have some of the best respiratory clinicians and researchers in the world, and experts in nearly every lung disease, but until the opening of the new Winchester Center, the access was limited,” said Naftali Kaminski, MD, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary). “This has changed dramatically. Since the Center opened, the number of new patients we have seen has nearly doubled.”

Francine LoRusso, senior vice president, operations for Yale New Haven Hospital, stresses the multidisciplinary aspect of the center. “We have nurses, social workers, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, and PCAs right there,” she said. “As somebody who's wanted this for many years, to see it come to fruition is just amazing.”

For Danielle Antin-Ozerkis, MD, associate professor of medicine (pulmonary) and medical director of the Yale Interstitial Lung Disease Center of Excellence, having easy access to these services has allowed her patients to receive onsite education about things like how to properly use oxygen and take medications, which frees her up to see a larger volume of patients. “We have a nurse coordinator who has developed an entire education program around oxygen,” Antin-Ozerkis said. “She can sit with patients and really educate them about what their oxygen setup is, how to use it, best practices, and when to call. It can be pretty overwhelming for patients, especially those who have never used oxygen before.”

Geoffrey Chupp, MD, professor of medicine (pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine), and director of the Yale Center for Asthma and Airways Disease, said that the physicians who’ve joined his team “are really passionate about taking care of patients with asthma. They do research in the field, they educate in this area,” Chupp said. “I think patients really notice that when they come to our center. They can tell that they're getting another level of care than they would in a community practice. That really sets us apart.”

Patients who are interested in participating in research trials are also able to learn about the details at the Winchester Center. For studies that require blood samples, for example, those can be taken at WCLD, making participation less daunting than it otherwise might be.

“The center is flourishing, and it’s still growing,” said Kaminski. “We are not done yet. We have and are recruiting additional outstanding physicians, clinicians, and researchers aiming to provide the best access to cutting edge clinical care and research to our patients with a variety of lung diseases. Now, with the improved infrastructure of our services, I think we have an outpatient center that is not only important regionally, but exceptional nationally.”

The Section of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine is one of the eleven sections within Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine. To learn more about Yale-PCCSM, visit PCCSM's website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Submitted by Julie Parry on November 27, 2023