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Rehab Program Helps Educator Adjust After Heart Attack

 

Steve Graham
Steve Graham participates in the UVMC Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program under the monitoring of Tami Maniaci McMillan, RN.

Steve Graham wasn’t too concerned about the illness that brought him to the UVMC Emergency Department last fall until the doctor told him a helicopter was on its way.

 

Graham, 64, was soon enroute to Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, where a heart stent was placed, beginning his road to recovery.  Four months later, he’s continuing work in his “active retirement” and a regular participant in UVMC’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program.

Graham, who was working around the house in New Carlisle with his wife when he became ill, said he should have recognized the signs of a possible heart attack. He was short of breath, felt some tingling in his arm and had slight chest pains.

“As I look back on it, I had all the classic symptoms. I went into the house and said, ‘I will sit here and cool off.’ After it didn’t go away, my wife said, ‘We are going to the hospital,’” he recalled. “We weren’t too upset about it. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.”

After his surgery, Graham followed his cardiologist’s instructions and visited UVMC Cardiopulmonary Rehab, though somewhat reluctantly.

“I came under duress. I thought it would be a waste of time. Basically, I was being stubborn,” Graham said. He told Tami Maniaci McMillan, RN, his thoughts and said he likely wouldn’t return. “She had a talk with me,” he said with a laugh. “She is outstanding. She refocused me, said ‘You need to be here and I expect to see you back.’”

Graham got the message. He was sold on the program by its benefits and the way he was treated.  Now, he cannot say enough good things about the rehab program.

“It is kind of awkward going in there. You look around, everyone kind of punched the same ticket to get into this club,” he said. “There is an awful lot of caring going on in there and just a lot of good, good people.”

Participation in the rehab program requires a referral from the patient’s doctor.  Each patient will have a lengthy assessment with a nurse on the first day, Maniaci McMillan said. This assessment includes reviewing the patient’s medicine and past history, a physical and a bike test. The number of visits is based on insurance, but typically it is for eight to 12 weeks.

Each Wednesday, an education program is included with the exercise program. Classes are led by nurses, dietician, diabetic counselor and exercise physiologists. Among topics are diabetes and weight management, stress management, benefits of exercise and risk factors for coronary heart disease.

The patient’s family doctor and cardiologist receive a report every 30 days. Exercise time and intensity are set for each individual. On completing this program patients have the option of returning for the next phase, which is self-pay.

“Our goal for our patients is that they feel healthier than they have in years, feel safe again and feel more knowledgeable about heart disease,” Maniaci McMillan said.

A native of Mercer County, Graham is a former teacher, coach and principal who now works with student teachers through Wright State University and with the Clark County Educational Services Center.

His advice for others?

“I would advise people that if they have any inkling they are going in this direction to read up on the warning signs and more importantly to just pay attention,” Graham said.

For more information on the UVMC Cardiopulmonary Rehab program visit www.UVMC.com or call 440-4677.

 

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