ELIZABETHTOWN - Elizabethtown Community Hospital is adding cardiac rehabilitation to its ever-growing service lineup. The program will accept patients beginning in early February at the Elizabethtown Community Health Center, across from the main hospital building.
Cardiac rehabilitation is a program that helps people develop heart health through education, physical activity, and lifestyle modification. It is coordinated by a physician and involves exercise physiologists, pharmacists, dieticians, nurses and the patient's family.
Cardiac rehab is not reserved for those who've suffered a heart attack. It is a program designed for people who've recently experienced bypass surgery, stent placement, valve repair, heart transplant, angina or angioplasty. Generally, cardiac rehabilitation is a treatment program for individuals who need to improve their heart health. It requires physician referral.
"After a heart issue, patients feel very vulnerable and may be reluctant to exert themselves," said Meredith King, RN. "Something as simple as walking to the mailbox can create anxiety. This program teaches people to be confident in their ability to recover and live as normally as possible."
It is a team approach, designed to help a patient transition from a significant heart issue to a situation where he or she feels confident performing daily tasks. It also includes information to help patients modify their lifestyle to help to reduce future risk. Components of a cardiac rehabilitation program are based on an individual treatment plan for each patient. It includes physician prescribed exercise, individualized education and ongoing assessment of each patient's goals.
The program will take advantage of the hospital's technologically advanced capabilities. The hospital's telemedicine program will be expanded to include virtual visits with Cardiologist Dr. Joel Wolkowicz, who is overseeing the program. "I'm delighted to be involved in this program," commented Wolkowicz. "Technology innovations such as telemedicine require us to think about healthcare in new ways. Meeting with patients from a distance allows them to remain where they're most comfortable and reduces the need for travel. Being part of this new program and using technology to help patients regain their physical capabilities is very exciting."
The facility is also equipped with a wireless patient monitoring system to ensure that each patient is exercising their heart at an appropriate level. The monitoring system consists of a series of electrodes attached to each patient and a centralized computer that records the data. Nurses and exercise physiologists will be equipped with wireless handheld devices to record each patient's vital signs at regular intervals; this information will also be transmitted to the central computer, providing real-time information.
According to Rob DeMuro, ECH chief of medical staff, cardiac rehabilitation is an important service for many local residents. "Before the establishment of cardiac rehab at our facility, patients were required to travel significant distances to take part in a rehabilitation program; and often at significant personal expense. Offering a program in our local community provides the opportunity for increased rest and recuperation," he said. "It's vitally important that our area residents have access to this important service close to home."