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St. Rose Health Center now offering cardiac rehab program
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James McReynolds, M.D., left, Mike Penn, R.N., and Lori Hammeke, registered respiratory therapist, pose for a photo in the new cardiac rehab facility at St. Rose Health Center. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

 Anyone who has suffered from a heart-related event or illness may now seek follow-up care at St. Rose Health Center. Its new Cardiac Rehabilitation program started early this month.

          Mike Penn, St. Rose registered nurse, coordinates the program and is now seeing patients in the brand new facility on the second floor; it is next door to Great Bend Internists.

          Penn managed St. Rose’s previous cardiac rehab program; he also served for 30 years as an intensive-care nurse and is certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

          “Decades of experience have proven to me that rehab is crucial for many heart patients,” Penn said. “We can help them safely regain their strength as we monitor their recovery.”

          Cardiac rehab is a systemized plan tailored to each individual. It is designed for those who have had a heart attack, bypass surgery, valve replacement, stent placement, pacemaker or defibrillator insertion, and heart-lung transplant.

          In addition, those with stable angina, compensated heart failure and coronary artery disease may also benefit.

          “These are some of the more common reasons people need rehab,” Penn said. “The main goals are to help them recover incrementally and safely, as we help them improve their overall health.”

          Specific goals are to increase heart and lung endurance, muscular strength, circulation, and knowledge of risk factors, while decreasing the risk of future heart problems and lowering cholesterol and stress.

          Physicians refer cardiac patients for rehab, which often entails three sessions a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Depending on the patient, rehab commonly lasts six to 12 weeks. It is often covered by insurance and physicians are pleased their patients are being monitored, Penn said.

          “I am with our rehab patients 100 percent of the time they are here,” Penn said. “They are monitored continually in a safe environment as I check their heart rate, oxygen saturation and blood pressure.”

          Exercise equipment in the facility includes a treadmill, recumbent and stationary bikes, and a recumbent stepper.

          “We also do stretches, and as the patient progresses, we add light weightlifting and resistance bands,” Penn said. “I emphasize the importance of continuing with lifestyle changes after they are released from rehab.

          “The objective is to help patients develop good eating and exercising habits that last a lifetime,” he continued. “I help them find ways to accomplish this in their unique circumstances.”

          Penn also noted that cardiac rehab reduces the mortality rate by 20 to 30 percent for all causes of death.

          “That is a strong statement,” Penn acknowledged. “But when you consider that rehab patients improve their overall health, it makes sense.”

          James McReynolds, M.D., cardiac rehab medical director whose practice is at St. Rose’s Great Bend Internists, couldn’t agree more.

          “In plain language,” Dr. McReynolds said, “cardiac rehab significantly reduces the risk of death. It should also be noted that some patients die shortly after a heart attack instead of at the time of the event. Cardiac rehab decreases risks in the weeks and months that follow.”

          In addition, cardiac rehab decreases the risk of a second non-fatal event, such as a heart attack, Dr. McReynolds noted.

          “Rehab is important for everyone who qualifies,” he said. “We can point to many studies proving that it decreases the risk of death and recurrent heart attack. Rehab is more attractive than going back to a hospital or even worse.”

          Dr. McReynolds noted the new program is another example of St. Rose’s commitment to the community. St. Rose also has access to resources from the DeBakey Heart Institute at Hays Medical Center, which co-owns St. Rose.

St. Rose specializes in primary care, prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine, Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic, Great Bend Internists, imaging, infusion clinic, WellnessWorks, one-day surgical procedures, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. St. Rose is co-owned by Hays Medical Center and Centura Health.