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Smith first graduate of St. Rose cardiac rehab program
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Wanda Smith exercises on a treadmill at St. Rose Health Centers new cardiac rehab facility, while Mike Penn, R.N., monitors her progress. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

If someone says cardiac rehab is not worth the effort, Wanda Smith has a succinct response.
“Then make plans to shorten your life,” the 57-year-old Great Bend woman said.
Smith is the first graduate of the new cardiac rehab program on St. Rose Health Center’s second floor; it is adjacent to Great Bend Internists.
She acknowledged that she was apprehensive at first but noted she is a glass-half-full kind of gal.
“I admit I was reluctant at first but everyone was fantastic,” she said. “I’m as happy as a pea in a pod; I’m on top of the world. I feel 100 percent better than I have ever felt in my entire life.
“I owe all this to the doctors and nurses at St. Rose and Hays Medical Center,” she added. “They are all wonderful.”
HaysMed and Centura Health co-own St. Rose.
Smith’s journey to cardiac rehab began in April this year when she underwent pre-testing for bladder/hernia surgery.
“They found out that I had had a heart attack at some point,” Smith said. “And I didn’t know it.”
A heart catheterization followed and ultimately triple-bypass surgery was performed at HaysMed. Dr. Elizabeth Ashworth, cardiothoracic vascular surgeon, performed the bypass Sept. 11 and Smith was released from the hospital five days later.
The next stop was cardiac rehab at St. Rose where Smith exercised on the treadmill, stationary bike and stair-stepper; she also used three-pound weights. Smith participated Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for six weeks.
“I actually miss going to rehab,” she commented. “Everyone there was easy to talk to and not judgmental. They were as supportive as my husband, Gary, and my daughter, Jennie.”
Even though Smith wants to return to work as a Countryside Vet groomer, she has to wait for Dr. Darrell Werth, urologist, to give the okay. He performed the bladder surgery Nov. 23 at HaysMed to treat Smith’s original concern.
“I really miss everyone at Countryside; they have all been so understanding,” Smith said. “I hope to return in January.”
Mike Penn, R.N., cardiac rehab coordinator, noted that Smith’s positive attitude was a big part of her recovery.
“Wanda’s outlook on life lent itself to the progress she made each time she came to rehab,” Penn said. “She is a hard worker and knew rehab was important to getting on with her life and feeling good.”
Smith is exercising regularly, which pleases Penn to no end. “Wanda understands the importance of follow-through,” he explained. “Very few people get enough exercise at work or around the house. They often don’t realize the goal is to reach their heartbeat target range for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week.
“Rehab is important not just for the few weeks patients are here,” he continued. “I emphasize they need to make exercise a regular part of their lives. Walking is God’s gift to those with heart issues.”