Taking local cardiac care to the next level
Cape Cod Healthcare’s cardiac rehabilitation programs help to boost patients’ confidence so they can get back to daily life. And, now, participants can have an extra dose of reassurance that they’ve made a smart choice to enroll.
The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) recently certified the rehab program offered through Cape Cod Hospital (CCH), attesting that it meets the guidelines and standards set by the peer association, according to Julie Drake, director of rehabilitation services for the hospital. The Falmouth Hospital cardiac rehabilitation program, which has been in place far longer than the CCH program, also has the accreditation.
“It elevates you to the next level,” Drake said. “We’re providing the same excellent care that we were before we applied for accreditation, but it inspired us to clean up our processes, and it validates that you’re following best-practice guidelines. And, someone’s holding you accountable to be sure you’re providing the highest quality care for your patients as you can be.”
Patients are referred to rehabilitation after a cardiac event, like a heart attack, or after cardiac surgery, Drake said. In Hyannis, they first get an assessment by a nurse and then the program’s medical director, cardiologist Elissa Thompson, MD. They then receive a reimbursable and personalized exercise program that’s spread over 36 visits. While working out, they wear monitors to make sure their heart rates are within safe range, and a cardiologist, CPR-trained staff and an automated external defibrillator or AED are always on site. Patients also get practical lessons on topics like diet and mental health, and can extend the program through a self-pay option by joining our phase 3 program once they complete this 36-visit phase 2 program.
“They get that confidence back, that they can exercise, they can have sexual relations, that they can climb a flight of stairs,” Drake said. “They can do those things that they would feel like they could never do again.”
The most important reason for a patient to attend cardiac rehab is to prevent another cardiac crisis, Dr. Thompson said.
“It’s very powerful in preventing secondary events,” she said, citing 40 years of research. “It also helps the healing process. It not only empowers you, but helps you understand what your body can really do.”
The Cape Cod Hospital program gets about 20 new patients every month; 60 percent of them men and 40 percent women, said Drake. The average patient attends at least 32 sessions compared to the national retention rate of 12 sessions, Dr. Thompson said, a statistic she credits to the people who work there.
“I really, truly, 100 percent believe our patients’ success and our retention rate is because of our staff,” she said.
To get certification, programs have to submit information to the association about staff training and competencies, patient treatment plans and outcomes, and emergency responses, among other details. Drake described it as an arduous process, but Dr. Thompson said it encouraged staff to review and improve some procedures.
“It keeps you honest,” Dr. Thompson said.
But, most important, they said, certification reassures patients they’ve made a good choice to sign up for a rehabilitation program.
“It’s just really important for people to understand that cardiovascular disease is something you can live with, that you can get better from,” Dr. Thompson said. “You should be empowered to control your own destiny if you have cardiovascular disease.”