St. Luke cardiac rehab aims to meet county need


Lori Garrett, director of the new cardio rehab program at St. Luke Hospital, poses by the recumbent bicycle in her office. The machine enables patients to exercise their arms as well as their leg as they use the exercise machine.

Marion County, with one of the highest percentages of senior residents in the state, has a convenient new resource for people with heart conditions.

St. Luke Hospital in Marion launched a cardiac rehabilitation program May 1 with Lori Garrett, a registered nurse, serving as its director.

?They did studies a few years ago that showed a lot of people who had certain kinds of heart conditions?heart attacks, heart surgeries?did infinitely better when they had some form of exercise/nutrtion program after the fact,? Garrett said.

Hospitals in Herington and Wichita offer those kind of resources, she said, ?but we really don?t have very much of it in the area?so there?s a huge need among our population.?

The focus of cardiac rehab is to reduce the factors that might lead to a reoccurrence of a heart incident. The approach at St. Luke includes education, nutrition and appropriate exercise, Garrett said.

People who could benefit from the new program simply need a referral from their physician.

?If it?s something they?re interested in, or their doctor recommends, the doctor writes a prescription like you do when you get a medication,? Garrett said.

?Medicare, which most of the people in our age group will be on, automatically approves 36 sessions,? she said. ?So they?ll often come in three times a week for 12 weeks.

?They just need a simple prescription or referral from their doctor and we?ll take it from there.?

So far, the program has two patients, but Garrett said they?re hoping for significant expansion. The ?department? is housed within a relatively small room at the St. Luke Physicians Clinic.

?For where we?re at right now, working one-on-one works good because we don?t have the space for more than that at a time,? Garrett said. ?But we can handle up to eight to 10 patients a day.

?We hope eventually to be moving into a larger space where we?ll be working with several people at a time.?

The office has two pieces of exercise equipment: a treadmill and a recumbent bicycle. Each is equipped with electronic monitoring devices, which enable Garrett to adjust the intensity of the routine according to the ability of each patient.

?It?s very individually based because people are so different,? she said. ?A lot of times, these are people who haven?t been able to move around much and get a lot of exercise. They?ve just had very intensive surgery.

?That?s one of the things we do the first day they come in?in talking with their doctors?to find out what they can do and what their biggest area of need is,? she added. ?Then you kind of work from there.?

Garrett said with a smile that the exercise expectations are nowhere near what someone might see at a fitness center.

?No one is going to come in and hop on this equipment like they?re an Olympic trainee,? she said. ?They?re going to work slowly and work their way up.

?A lot of times the main problem is simply a lack of stamina, or being short of breath so they can?t do the things at home that they want to do?like going fishing or taking care of household chores,? Garrett said.

?So you start small and work your way up so that by the end of the program they can do some of the fun stuff?not just show off in exercise class.?

Garrett said she likes her new role at St. Luke. She?s been a nurse for 10 years and worked in a cardiac rehab unit in Arizona before starting her tenure at St. Luke some 71⁄2 years ago.

?I had both an interest in (cardiac rehab) and a background in it,? she said about her new role.

For more information about St. Luke?s cardiac rehab program, you can contact Garrett at 620-382-2177.

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