Cardiopulmonary Services Help Rebuild Strength, Improve Quality of Life

This article was published in our Spring 2016 Update.

Gifford cardiopulmonary servicesAfter Richard Polarek had a heart valve replacement at the VA hospital in Boston last summer, his doctor coordinated with Gifford for his follow-up care so he could be closer to his home in Randolph Center.

For nearly two months he left his treatment sessions at Gifford’s Cardiopulmonary Services Department feeling discouraged. “Even though I challenged myself a little more each time, I didn’t feel any change,” he said. “Then, in the last month, I began to experience the benefits—not huffing, being able to walk longer and faster, but most of all not making excuses for not doing something. Now I’m hooked!”

During his multiple weekly visits he became friends with Bob Perry Sr., a pulmonary rehab patient who exercised on the bio stair machine and bicycle to treat his COPD. “I love this!” said Perry.” I can walk further and I don’t breathe as hard. When I come in now I can walk up the entrance ramp.”

Cardiac rehabilitation helps patients build strength and endurance after a heart attack, heart surgery, and other heart illness. The program includes exercise with specially-trained nurses, education, and nutrition advice. The goal is to return patients to good physical, mental, and social health and to help people better understand and adapt to their disease.

The Pulmonary rehabilitation program combines monitored exercise and education to help people with lung disease, such as COPD, to decrease symptoms and hospitalizations, increase exercise tolerance, and improve quality of life. To learn more about these programs and testing, call the Cardiopulmonary Department at Gifford at 728-2222 or ask your health care provider for a referral.

One Bowl (Me Over) of Laughter: Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The following is an excerpt from our 2013 Annual Report: A Recipe for Success.

Stephannie Welch

Respiratory therapist Stephannie Welch and Tim Leno

Tim Leno of Graniteville has Stage 3 COPD. This summer he drove three times a week to Gifford to build his tolerance to exercise and get fit as part of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Gifford. The program is a place where laughter often rings out, in part due to the good humor of respiratory therapist Stephannie Welch and patients like Tim.

“I try to find some humor in every situation and laugh my way through life. Sometimes that is di‡ffcult but not at Giff‰ord Pulmonary Rehab. Stephannie was the perfect foil for some of my jokes, helping me set up for the punchline. She was a great sport and she can give as good as she takes.”
~ Tim Leno