By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — Wayne HealthCare’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center celebrated its 10-year anniversary this week. Initiated by Linda Fridley, CRT, in February 2013, the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program quickly grew into the invaluable patient support system it is today. Physicians, respiratory therapists, and the medical director collaborate to develop individualized treatment plans focused on improving the quality of life and activity levels for patients with pulmonary problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Patients utilizing the Pulmonary Rehab Program receive an evaluation and instruction of physical activity, a personalized exercise program that is monitored and supervised during Phase II of pulmonary rehabilitation, blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitoring, as well as a chance to meet and share stories with others.
Patient education and support is at the center of this program dedicated to helping patients cope, live with, and control the symptoms of chronic lung disease.
Respiratory therapist Karen Lockhart, RRT, has 43 years of experience and has been with the program since its first year. Lockhart said, “I enjoy all the breathing stuff, but what I really love is being able to teach. In this job, I get to do both. Seeing patients meet their goals is amazing. For some it might be the goal of making it upstairs; for others, it might be to get off oxygen or to quit smoking—things many of us take for granted, really.”
Cheryl Thomas, RRT, has been working in Pulmonary Rehab since 2018. Thomas explained her specialty as a respiratory therapist is focusing on the heart and lungs and that she also does breathing [pulmonary function] tests outside the center. “I truly enjoy the people. We get to see them when they come in and watch their improvements by the end of the program. It is so rewarding to be able to work in pulmonary rehabilitation,” said Thomas.
Lockhart added, “Often patients don’t think they can do it but soon realize they can. We start simply with breathing techniques and pacing, and then move into strength and endurance.”
The typical rehab program is eight weeks plus an additional four weeks if needed. Patients meet two times per week and are encouraged to continue at home with recommended exercises.
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program topics include the following: living with chronic lung disease, exercise and activity, ways to save energy, emotional and social well-being, proper use of medication and side effects, preventing infection, nutrition, oxygen therapy, proper inhaler use, respiratory therapy equipment operation, tobacco avoidance, shortness of breath techniques, and monitored and supervised personalized exercise program.
The program is held Tuesdays and Thursdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at a cost of $30 per month. A physician referral is required for participation. For more information or to schedule, please call 937-547-5917.
Reach Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield at [email protected] or 937-569-0066.