Participants must be referred by a physician

Staff report


Congestive-heart-failure patient Jackie Jones of Warren is able to do things she hasn’t been able to do in more than two years because of a Humility of Mary Health Partners’ pilot program designed to help heart-failure patients avoid readmission to the hospital.

Jones, 59, uses a walker and is on oxygen but is able to stand at her sink to wash dishes and carry small loads of laundry to her washing machine. She still depends on a caregiver to do bigger household chores but, says Jones, “I can do five times as much as I used to.”

Jones says the quality of her life has improved greatly since becoming part of the program.

She’s lost inches around her waist, making it easier for her to get behind the wheel of her car. She gets out more, volunteers two days a week at her church, takes fewer naps and says she feels better overall because of the program funded by a $27,000 grant from the HMHP Foundation.

Up to 37 newly diagnosed heart-failure patients who meet specified health- and financial-need criteria can participate in a four-month exercise rehabilitation program administered by the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic and Cardiac Rehabilitation program at St. Joseph Health Center in Warren.

The exercise rehabilitation program helps heart-failure patients improve their stamina for physical activity and endurance while they learn to manage their disease. Jones has improved the quality of her life through exercise and is now able to do things she hasn’t done in years, said Joanne Delaquila, exercise physiologist at St. Joseph.

Participants must be referred by their physicians and undergo an assessment at the CHF clinic at St. Joseph before beginning the exercise program, which is tailored to meet the individual needs of each patient, Delaquila said.

During the CHF clinic evaluation, patients also receive one-on-one instruction on how to manage heart failure, reference materials, a scale to monitor daily changes in their weight — gaining 3 pounds over three days or 5 or more pounds in a week could indicate the patient is retaining fluid — a measuring cup to monitor intake of fluids, a pill box to organize medications and a tape-measure to track swelling — and fluid retention — of the ankles, calves, knees, thighs and abdomen.

The goal of the program is to help patients manage their illness and improve their health.

Patients who are healthier and actively manage their disease are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital and more likely to have a better quality of life. Because exercise helps improve heart function, patients who are active remain healthier, Delaquila said.

Program participants are required to visit the cardiac rehabilitation center at least twice a week and gradually increase the duration of their exercise sessions.

Participants also must comply with their physician’s orders regarding prescribed medications and sign a contract acknowledging that they will remain in compliance and meet the expectations for exercise, hospital officials said.

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