Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Helps Patients Rebuild Active Lives
Upper Valley Medical Center’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program helps patients learn how to deal with a heart or lung condition while pursuing the most healthy, active lifestyle possible.
Hundreds of people have participated in the rehabilitation program since it opened its doors in Miami County in 1985. They range from those who have suffered a cardiac event, such as Mark Goldner of Troy, who has attended the cardiac program since a 2007 heart attack. Others are dealing with respiratory problems, including recent double lung transplant recipient Joe Martin of Piqua.
Each person who comes to the program receives an individualized plan of exercise, education, counseling and other services, as needed. The initial phase of the program lasts 8 to 12 weeks for cardiac patients and 6 to 10 weeks for pulmonary patients. This follows a hospital stay for treatment of the patient’s condition, an introduction to education and some exercise.
The cardiac rehabilitation team sees patients who have had open-heart surgery, heart attack, angioplasty and/or stent, stable angina, or their doctors determine they have risk factors for heart disease.
On the first day, the patient sits down with the nurse for an interview reviewing family history, identifying risk factors and goals, and checking their medicines. The patient also undergoes a physical and is checked on a heart monitor. The rehab team works with patients to review risk factors such as diet, weight management, stress management, smoking cessation and appropriate types of exercises needed for the heart. Spouses are invited and usually attend education sessions.
“We are about educating them, the why this happened and what they can do to prevent further problems. We help them gain their control back. Their goals are our goals,” said Tami Maniaci McMillan, lead nurse for cardiac rehabilitation.
She recalls a conference where caregivers were told, “Everybody that walks in your door is afraid that they are going to die.” McMillan took that information to heart.
“Now I know it is my job to reassure them,” she said. “Obviously, I don’t have a crystal ball, but can reassure them that they will be OK and are safe here. It is kind of their second chance in life to change things.”
The program has seen patients as young as 21 to those in their 90s. One patient has been coming to cardiac rehab since 1985. When patients are finished with the initial phase, they have the option of coming back for an additional phase which involves a self-pay program, similar to going to a gym or Y.
“They have the benefit of having qualified people with advanced certifications on staff, a physician who responds to the program and, if needed, the emergency department just down the hall,” McMillan said.
Mark Goldner of Troy had a stent placed following a heart attack Jan. 31, 2007. A self-described “pretty avid exerciser,” Goldner, 60, started cardiac rehab in March 2007.
“Getting back into this was kind of a confidence thing for me,” said Goldner, who said he still plays a lot of tennis.
In addition to the exercise, Goldner said he enjoys the camaraderie of fellow patients and the people who work in the department. And, he said, he is reassured by the staff’s frequent checks on program participants and knowing “if something would ever happen, I am already here (at the hospital).”
Duane Bachman of Piqua began the cardiac rehab program earlier this year after being diagnosed with congestive heart failure and subsequently going into cardiac arrest.
“This is a great program run by fabulous people. The success of this program is because of the caring nurses,” Bachman said. “It is a very informal environment out there. It is like being in a service club that meets three times a week,” he said. “I am never in a hurry to go home.“
Joe Martin, 41, of Piqua had a double lung transplant surgery earlier this year at the Cleveland Clinic. He returned to the cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation program in early May, easing himself into a twice-per-week exercise routine so he can slowly gain more endurance. “You come here mainly to keep your body active,” he said, explaining as he prepared to exercise on five different machines.
Martin has been coming to the program since the early 2000s as he dealt with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an inflammation disease that scars the lung. IPF has claimed his mother, a brother and a sister. A Joe Martin Pay It Forward Fund has been set up at Unity National Bank to help Martin meet medical expenses, primarily medication he will have to take for the rest of his life.
Martin jokingly referred to himself as the baby of the pulmonary group. “It’s a comfortable setting,” Martin said. “Your new friends here are 70 or 80. I’ve met some really nice people, and I’ve heard a lot of good stories here,” he said.
As with cardiac rehabilitation, patients are referred to the pulmonary rehabilitation program following diagnosis of a health condition. Participating patients have had such conditions as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer, asthma, and so far, two have had lung transplants.
Respiratory therapists work with the patients on different types of breathing techniques.
“A lot of them are amazed. When they learn to handle their breathing, they can walk several laps around room before they have to stop to catch their breath. It makes a big difference when they are trying to maintain daily activities such as getting dressed, eating a meal,” said Elaine Bohman, lead charge nurse for the pulmonary program.
“This is learning how to cope with your breathing and to make yourself have the best quality of life that you can have.”
Patients also learn about medications, infection control, their disease, nutrition, smoking cessation and supporting others.
“Sometimes just meeting someone else who is in similar shoes helps,” Bohman said. “They are like a big family with eachother.”
Similar to cardiac rehab, pulmonary rehab has separate phases, and the later pulmonary phase also is self-pay.
The cardiopulmonary department has state-of-the-art exercise equipment purchased a year ago, said Jean Heath, director over UVMC Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.
“We offer a high standard of cardiac and pulmonary rehab equipment and professionals here. What is nice to know is we have on staff certified, advanced cardiac life support nurses, exercise physiologists, clinical dieticians, a diabetes nurse educator, chaplain, and a pharmacist and psychologist are available,” Heath said.
Last year, UVMC Cardiac Rehab recorded more than 13,000 patient visits, and Pulmonary Rehab saw close to 2,500 patient visits.
To learn more, feel free to contact the UVMC Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation program at 440-4740 or visit www.uvmc.com