SJMH pulmonary rehab provides good habits

The staff of the Pulmonary Rehab Department at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston was recently awarded accreditation by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation for the local pulmonary rehab program.

The SJMH program is called “Breathe Easy (One Step at a Time)” and is coordinated by Nurse Manager Kristi Gannon. The program was started in 2005.

The Pulmonary Rehabilitation staff works with patients suffering with chronic lung disease. Staff acknowledges that patients suffer both physically and psychologically with the disease.

Gannon noted that the Pulmonary program helps those struggling with the disability to return to a more healthy and satisfying lifestyle. The program provides a comprehensive approach to patient care, including education about pulmonary diseases, lifestyle changes, incorporation of mild physical activity, and handling the psychological effects of a patient’s condition.

One of the department’s “star patients” is Sheri Crisp of Buckhannon a Title I reading teacher at Tennerton Elementary School.

“I have been asthmatic for 12 years. It happened when I was 24 years old. I got pneumonia and it went downhill after that,” she


In December 2013, Crisp suffered another setback when she got pneumonia again and then bronchitis. Together with her other respiratory issues, her pulmonologist Dr. Midry said that she needed to get help.

“There were only three places that offered pulmonary rehab and I was fortunate to find Stonewall Jackson’s Rehab Department,” said Sheri. “I have been coming three days a week because I can’t wait to get back to work at the school. I haven’t been able to do that since my last bout of bronchitis.”

She feels that the pulmonary rehab regimen has made quite a difference for her.

“I can now carry on a conversation. I can breathe and I have increased my activity level,” she said. “They understand what I am capable of and they all make me laugh.”

Crisp noted that in January she could not walk more than 50 feet. Today she can do half a mile on the treadmill. The ability to walk also means that she can keep up with her three children Murphy, 14; Paige, 12; and Autumn, 3. Her husband Cameron works for the U.S. Forest Service.

“I would recommend this to anyone. I am worn out but it has helped me a lot. Hopefully, I can go back to work and the teaching I love,” she said.

Crisp’s positive experience is a good example for other people suffering from pulmonary conditions.

“The ultimate goal of the program is to rehabilitate the patient to his or her maximum potential and reduce the number of life-threatening respiratory occurrences or hospitalizations,” Gannon explained. “Family members are welcome to participate in the treatment program and learn how to support the patient.”

During the eight- to 12-week program, staff takes the time to get to know the patient by completing a medical history, conducting diagnostic testing and a physical evaluation, and by completing an assessment of the patient’s knowledge about their condition, and pulmonary disease in general. An important part of the program includes setting goals for patients. Once goals are set, each patient’s progress is monitored and adjusted as necessary. This ensures that the patient receives the education and training most appropriate for him/her.

Each patient will undergo supervised exercise therapy to improve muscle conditioning and cardiovascular fitness. Exercise will be tailored to the patient’s specific needs and abilities. Types of exercise may include walking, stair climbing, strength conditioning, stretching maneuvers, and respiratory muscle training.

The education component of the program is conducted in small group sessions or on an individual basis. The program coordinators believe that knowledge is a key for developing one’s pulmonary rehabilitation potential. Some of the subjects discussed in education and training sessions include: breathing retraining, inhaler (mdi) instruction, anatomy of the respiratory system, coping with chronic disease, medication usage and importance of exercise.

Once a patient has completed the program, staff help develop a plan for self-management and treatment at home. The patient may experience a number of improvements, including: control and alleviate the symptoms and complications of respiratory impairment, achieve optimal capacity to carry out activities of daily living, decrease psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression, increase exercise tolerance and reduce hospitalizations

If a patient would like more information or to participate in the program, they can call 304-269-8099 or ask their physician.