March 12-18 is National Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week. This special annual observance was initiated by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) to spotlight pulmonary rehabilitation’s contribution to enhancing the lives of individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pulmonary Rehabilitation specialists, like those here at St. Joe’s, help enhance the lives of chronic pulmonary patients who constantly live with shortness of breath and would face a future of declining health if not for the treatment and therapies they receive. Due to their COPD, many patients are discouraged when they begin their therapy. At St. Joes, most find that their course of therapy has made a very positive difference in their quality of life.
Our Pulmonary Rehab department, founded in 1995, is currently comprised of therapists Veronica Burke CRT, Denise Holt CRT and Michelle Brown CRT. “This is the best program I have ever seen in all my years in Respiratory Therapy,” says their Director, Peggy Innocenti.
When walking by the rehab gym on the second floor in the Hospital, it’s commonplace to hear lively conversations, much laughter and caring support from staff to patient as well as patient to patient. The camaraderie that grows over time becomes a very supportive environment for our patients. Many wish they could stay on indefinitely because they have found a new group of friends and people who care about them. For those who feel they’re really going to miss the program, there’s a monthly support group for “alumni,” known as the Better Breathers Club.
In addition to our three Pulmonary Rehab therapists, patients may also encounter other members of the St. Joe’s provider team. Depending on each patient’s individual situation, these can include doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and dietitians.