A group of very different people from all walks of life has formed the bonds of a family under a very different set of circumstances.
This week is Cardiac Rehab Week and for the patients at Bothwell Regional Health Center the time they spend together has truly helped to save their lives while uniting them as a family.
“Cardiac Rehab is one of our most popular programs in the hospital,” Lisa Church, executive director, foundation and communications for BRHC, said via email. “Patients receive cardiac rehab after having a heart-related diagnosis, such as a heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia or sometimes high blood pressure.
“What tends to happen is that the patients in the program get used to exercising and develop friendships, so when the first phase of physician-ordered therapy is over, they self-pay to continue the program,” Church added. “Some of the cardiac rehab patients have been coming for more than a decade, others have signed up their spouses to join them; it’s kind of like a coffee klatch, without the coffee and sitting.”
The hospital offers three cardiac rehab classes at 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., which run for 12 weeks (36 sessions), according to Cathy Korthas, cardiac rehab R.N.
There is also a pulmonary rehab class at 11:15 a.m. and long-term cardiac rehab class that meets at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
For husband and wife Bill and Ruth Lehmann, the hour spent together at rehab is a way for both to stay motivated.
“I really think the more active you are the more healthy you can be,” Bill Lehmann said. “I really recommend staying active because for me, if I stop and set down, I tend to want to stay down. It really is important to stay active.”
Lehmann first started the program in 2006 and remained a part of the cardiac rehab for several years, but then stopped coming.
“I never had a heart attack,” Lehmann said. “In 2010 I had some stents put in and I’ve been back ever since. Ruth comes with me most days because she keeps me motivated and we support each other.”
The support system the individuals have developed has become important to all the members.
“I don’t have to be here but I want to be here,” Gene Woolery said. “I’ve been coming for the past six years because I have made a commitment to my heart health.
“I had a heart attack and had to have a stent put in but because I have been coming here I feel healthy and good, especially after I get done,” Woolery added. “The whole program is a benefit and we are all concerned about each other.”
Woolery said the group has become so close that if one of them is not present, they will ask and check on those who are missing.
“We really are a family and we have the three Cathy’s and a Melanie who look after us,” Woolery added with a smile. “They are such a good group of girls and they really do care about all of us.”
Korthas said the nurses have become very close to their patients over the course of the treatment.
“Some of our phase three patients have been coming for more than 15 years,” Korthas said. “They all have to have a specific diagnosis to qualify for placement and we are full at the time and even have a waiting list.
“Many of our patients feel more comfortable here than they would at a gym setting because they know we can address any situation if it may arise with all of the doctors and nurses we have here and the fact that if they need it the emergency room is right here too.”
The patients are monitored for their heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and other factors throughout their sessions and do both warm-up and stretching exercises prior to starting the activities. They also complete cool down activities after the completion of the exercise sessions.
“Since this week is Cardiac Rehab Week we are planning a celebration for our patients on Friday,” Korthas said. “For the first time in five years we are going to have a little party with heart healthy snacks and some drawings for gifts as well.
“We want to do something for all of our patients because we do love and care for them like we do our family.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484