Hospital's Heart Program Helping Keep Folks Healthy
By Milburn Gibbs, as appeared in the Chatham News
It was like a chorus line of older citizens gyrating and dancing their new-found heart wellness joy across the stage at the Western Chatham Senior Center.
It was the one-year anniversary of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Staff and Participation’s Live Performance on February 20.
Forty rehab members and Chatham Hospital staff gathered on the anniversary to hear opening remarks by Chatham Hospital CEO Carol Straight, and a presentation on heart health by Dr. Mauricio Cohen, Medical Director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program.
RN Debbie Scotten is the program director and Dr. James W. Davis is the Supervising Physician, who is present during all Phase 2 and 3 exercising.
“This program was part of the Immigrant Health Initiative,” Straight said. “We have been doing Phase 4 (at-risk to six months past an attack or surgery) for a year and have just become certified to do Phase 2 and 3 programs, which will both begin on March 1. Phase 2 is right out of surgery (2-6 weeks) and Phase 3 is 6-12 weeks afterward. Phase 1 is still in the hospital.”
“Phase 2 and 3 both will have a nurse, an exercise physiologist present at all times as well as a medical doctor. A psychologist is available as needed.”
Debbie does the patient assessments prior to enrollment for all classes.
“Debbie does a great job of making the classes fun,” Straight praised.
Straight also noted there is a waiting list presently for Phase 4 exercise. Phase 2 and 3 exercises require a referral from a doctor.
“Currently, patients have to leave the county to take their phases 2 and 3 classes, but as of March 1, we can do it all right here in Chatham County,” Straight said.
Dr. Cohen said the performance the exercisers put on was “the real meaning of cardiac rehabilitation.”
He spoke about the risk factors for heart disease – high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, over-weight and alcohol, drugs and tobacco usage among others.
“What Chatham County needed was prevention. Exercise and how to carry a healthy lifestyle lowers mortality among heart patients,” Cohen continued.
He said that generally, women, minorities and poorer patients did not get referred by doctors to cardiac rehab as often.
Cohen was serious when he said the exercisers’ most important measure of success was if they were having fun.
“These programs have made a huge difference in my life, WNCA’s Bear in the Air, Barry Hayes said at the ceremony. “I love this program.”
A heart-healthy meal was furnished by Merck Pharmaceuticals following the presentations.
You never saw so many smiles as the rehabilitated wore. Each wore his or her Cardiac Rehab T-shirts.
And yes, they truly were having fun, as Dr. Cohen wanted.