This year, more than 900,000 Americans are expected to have a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, a third of those patients will likely suffer another; but before that can happen, Mercy’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation team steps in.
“When people have a heart attack, we recondition them so they don’t have to come back and see us,” said Randy Berner, medical-surgical manager at Mercy St. Francis Hospital. “We also do therapy for lung patients with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). It’s all about getting them back to leading a healthier life – outside of the hospital.”
And it’s catching on. In recent years, the number of patients turning to Mercy St. Francis Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Rehab Department for therapy has grown significantly.
“We were already beginning pulmonary rehab during a patient’s stay, easing into exercises and stretching in the hospital room, slowly orienting them to our therapy department,” Berner said. “Now we’re focusing even more on the transition to what we call phase two, which includes us monitoring patients’ heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen flow as they progressively work through more challenging exercises. Then, when they’re ready for phase three, they’ll be able to use more equipment at their leisure, with easy access to Mercy experts.”
To accommodate all three phases, Mercy leaders knew a physical expansion was also in order. On the wish list: a newly remodeled therapy department with additional square feet to make room for treadmills, recumbent bicycles, hand ergometers and a set of weights.
“Many of those patients using our services are our volunteers with the Mercy St. Francis Auxiliary, or they’re friends of our auxilians” said Cindy Tooley, executive director of operations at Mercy St. Francis Hospital.
Donna Triplett, who donates her time each Wednesday at the Mercy St. Francis Hospital, knows a thing or two about physical therapy. “About 18 years ago, I had four heart bypass surgeries,” she said. “In the last year, I’ve had three stents put in, and I turned to Mercy to get me back to normal.”
Triplett recently wrapped up 12 weeks of therapy, which included arm lifts, leg exercises and small weight training. “I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the routine they put me on. I know of some people in the community who gave up or don’t even try, and it’s a shame because this is really life-changing.”
“Auxilians like Donna really wanted to give back and see the department expand, so they pledged $30,000 for the rehab renovations,” Tooley said. “Now everyone’s buzzing about how much more space and equipment there will be – and very soon.”
Over the last few months, crews have moved walls, laid fresh carpeting and applied a fresh coat of paint to the rejuvenated space.
“We really couldn’t have done this without our volunteers,” Tooley said. “They’re some of our biggest supporters, who help our community and expand our services. We’re really excited about opening up that space so we can see more patients.”
Dozens of auxilians at Mercy split their time between the gift shop – along with other tasks at the hospital – and the Mercy St. Francis Thrift Shop, located at 108 W. 1st Street. The store sells gently used items, such as clothing, seasonal décor and household items; purchases at either location benefit the hospital, patients and community. Auxilians also host several fundraisers throughout the year.
“I think the expansion is a great benefit for the community,” Berner said. “It gives them the ability to get that therapy locally, at their hometown hospital, without having to travel back and forth multiple times a week, somewhere else. We want patients to prevent future heart attacks and breathe better – literally.”
The Cardiopulmonary Rehab Department will be staffed by a registered nurse and respiratory therapist who will treat patients referred to them by a doctor or specialist. Patients must have recently had a cardiac event – such as a heart attack, bypass or stent placement – or suffer from chronic pulmonary diseases such as COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema.
To learn more about Mercy Therapy Services – Mountain View, click here, or call 417-934-7000. To find out how to donate to similar projects through the Mercy Health Foundation Mountain View, contact Karen Simpson-Neasby at 417-533-6192.
Mercy Springfield Communities is comprised of Mercy Hospital Springfield, an 866-bed referral center; five regional hospitals in Lebanon, Aurora, Cassville, Mountain View, and Berryville, Ark.; Mercy Clinic, a 500-plus physician clinic with 70 locations throughout the region. It is part of Mercy, the seventh largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves millions annually. Mercy includes 45 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.