Therapy Sessions Improve Patients’ Heart, Lung Health
The ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs will reopen May 8, providing residents with a local site to complete their vital rehabilitation following severe cardiac events, including heart attacks or heart surgeries, and a variety of chronic pulmonary conditions.
“Rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process,” said Kim Lepinski, a registered nurse who will lead the cardiac and pulmonary rehab programs. “The cardiac program is a mix of education and exercise. We get the patient’s blood moving, which strengthens the heart and improves overall health.”
The cardiac rehabilitation program is known as Phase 2 since it occurs after the patient leaves the hospital. It is designed to strengthen and stabilize the heart. “Medicare and most insurance providers provide up to 36 cardiac rehab sessions since studies have shown how vital they are to a patient’s recovery,” said Stephanie Yenter, the lead for the ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca cardiac rehab program, which served Wild Rose patients while the rehab was briefly closed.
“Ideally, patients come into the cardiac rehab lab three times a week,” she continued. While they exercise on treadmills or bikes, patients are closely monitored on a heart monitor. The education component of the sessions focus on multiple issues such as better eating habits and stress management. Patients also learn about other educational classes that might benefit their overall health, such as the diabetes management program.
“Many patients worry after having a cardiac event about being able to do the things they used to be able to do. The rehab helps them to be more confident and improves their overall health,” Lepinski said.
After patients complete Phase 2, they can sign up for Phase 3 rehab, which means they can continue to come to the rehab department for exercise sessions. There is no limit to how long patients can stay in Phase 3, which is a self-pay program.
“It’s a maintenance program that encourages patients to be more self-reliant,” Yenter said. “Patients no longer have the heart monitor on when exercising, but they can ask questions and many patients enjoy the social aspect.”
The cardiac rehab program received national certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation in 2016.
Lepinski, who will lead the rehab program has been at ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose since 2002, working in multiple departments, including the swing bed, acute and emergency units. She completed the special training required to work in the lab. Lepinski’s familiarity with staff members is a benefit to patients, said Marci Reynolds, supervisor of health and wellness at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.
Pulmonary rehab services will also be offered to people with chronic lung problems. Pulmonary rehab services are similar to cardiac rehab although patients come in twice a week to exercise and receive education.
“With pulmonary rehab, there is a lot of education, designed specifically to help patients with chronic pulmonary disease,” Reynolds said. “We provide them with education to make sure they are using their medications and manage their symptoms so they do not get sick so often.”
Reynolds said the rehab services, which are covered by Medicare and private insurers, is very effective. “We have seen patients come in who had difficulty walking across the room, but at the end of their program they are exercising for 30 minutes,” she said. “Patients also gain support by meeting with others who are facing the same difficulties. It’s wonderful to see the pulmonary patients return to many of their prior life activities and gain more control over their disease.”
“The reopened cardiac rehab and pulmonary rehab programs will make it easier for Wild Rose residents to receive the care they need locally,” said Dawn Shuman, director of nursing and patient service for ThedaCare Medical Center-Wild Rose and ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.
“We are very excited to have a both a certified cardiac rehabilitation program, and a pulmonary rehab program, available locally. It is a very important step toward full recovery after a cardiac event,” she said. “We have a very compassionate team that is dedicated to ensuring our patients have the support, guidance and expertise to achieve their wellness goals.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.