HERRIN — After a life-changing cardiac event, such as a heart attack or angina, patients are released from the hospital with instructions on exercise and diet.


Staff members move items into the new location of the Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services on the main floor of Herrin Hospital on Thursday in Herrin.

Byron Hetzler

Many of those patients begin their exercise program in Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

For patients sent to rehab at Herrin Hospital, that meant a long walk to the basement of the hospital to reach Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

As of last week, Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation has a new home at Herrin Hospital. Their new location is on the first floor of the hospital next to the Healing Garden.


Patients using treadmills in the new location of the Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services on the main floor of Herrin Hospital will now have a view outside.

Byron Hetzler

Ashley Will, system manager for Cardio-Pulmonary Rehab, said rehab will be joined in the new location by the pulmonary function lab. That means patients can get their pulmonary function tested and walk a few feet to meet the rehab staff or observe rehab.

The previous space for the department has doubled.

The new rehab space overlooks the Julia Harrison Bruce and Fred G. Harrison Memorial Garden. In the basement, the department had no windows. Now, the treadmills overlook the garden which has spring flowers in bloom.


Staff members set up equipment in the new location of the Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services on the main floor of Herrin Hospital on Thursday in Herrin.

Byron Hetzler

“Classes are every hour on the hour, with some COVID restrictions allowing 10 patients per class,” Wills said.

Cardiac rehab classes are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pulmonary rehab is Tuesday and Thursday. The department sees between 40 and 50 patients a day. Wills said they hope to expand to see more patients.

The new space will provide better flow as patients move through rehab. They have a nurse and physiologist, and the department is close to dietary as well.

One staple in the department is Dixie Richardson, a registered nurse who has worked in rehab since 1994. She started at the hospital as an ICU nurse in 1986.

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Richardson and Office Coordinator Rosetta Casolari are excited about their new space.

“We’re excited and looking forward to the next 10 years,” Richardson said.

One thing that the women are excited about are the windows.

“We’re upstairs and have a view of the outdoors,” Casolari said.

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For patients, Richardson said the new location will be easier to access. While patients start rehab in the hospital, they are not back to normal as they transition to Cardio Pulmonary Rehab as an outpatient. In rehab, they participate in guided exercise under the watchful eyes of health care professionals, like Richardson.

Casolari had a stent placed in December 2015. After the procedure, she went to cardiac rehab.

“I think it helped me a lot,” she said.

Their new department has office space, a break room and storage. There’s even room to walk around. With the garden just on the other side of the windows, patients can even come into the department from the outside.

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Richardson said patients often start rehab fearful of exercise. As they work with the staff of the rehab department, they gain confidence in their ability and energy.

One of their female patients even ran a 5K race.

“To be given back a normal life means a lot. It means a lot to the patients and to us,” Richardson said.

Cardio-Pulmonary Rehabilitation is offered at SIH Herrin Hospital, SIH St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro and SIH Harrisburg Medical Center Clinic.

The programs in Herrin and Murphysboro were among the first facilities in the country to receive the highest accreditation possible through the National Certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. This certification recognizes programs that have been found to meet the essential requirements for standards of care.

For more information, visit sih.net.

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