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

Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Good Exercise, Good Friends, Good Fun

pulmonary rehabilitation

Lois Flint and Dennis Boardman of Chelsea share a laugh with Gifford respiratory therapist Stephannie Welch.

This article appeared in our Spring 2013 Update publication.

When Lois Flint of Chelsea showed up for pulmonary rehabilitation at Gifford, who did she  find one treadmill over? None other than her neighbor, Dennis Boardman. With Lois’ husband behind the wheel, the duo started commuting together for their thrice-weekly appointments, spending the winter working out and laughing hard at Gifford.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is medical therapy for chronic respiratory diseases, typically chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). While not curative, the 10-week program combines exercise and education to decrease symptoms and hospitalizations, increase exercise tolerance, and improve quality of life.

Dennis has COPD and had a cancerous kidney removed in October at Gifford. When he left the hospital, he was on oxygen. His primary care provider, Dr. Mark Seymour at the Bethel Health Center, suggested he try pulmonary rehabilitation.

He recently completed the program, off of oxygen.

The 62-year-old retired log truck driver credits the program with improving his stamina for walking, getting him off the oxygen and giving him “a lot of freedom to be able to do what I want to do.”

Lois had part of her right lung removed, also from cancer, three years ago. Since, the 74-year-old retired cook has struggled with her diminished lung capacity. Her primary care provider, physician assistant Starr Strong of the Chelsea Health Center, suggested the program.

Overseen by Gifford pulmonologist Dr. Marda Donner and a team of respiratory therapists and nurses who carefully monitor participants as they workout, the now four-year-old program can’t cure lung disease, but aims to help people feel better just the same.

Lois, for example, still has limited lung capacity, but she’s no longer letting it slow her down.

“It motivated me,” says Lois, who is now walking on the treadmill at home. “I think it’s great.”

Learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation by calling Gifford Cardiopulmonary Services at 728-2222 or asking your health care provider for a referral.