Rehab center at Bristol Hospital offers comradery

Published on Friday, 2 March 2018 20:01
Written by Lorenzo Burgio


BRISTOL - Patients are first referred to Bristol Hospital’s Bernie Guida Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center by a physician, but return for its comradery.

“There’s a lot of comradery here. That’s one of the reasons you come here,” said Bob Flaherty, who has been attending classes at the facility for 27 years, beginning after he had bypass surgery.

The facility, equipped with exercise equipment and staff that is ready to help, offers programs for heart patients, made up of three phases that are tailored to fit each patient’s needs.

The three phases cover exercise, education, nutrition, counseling and psychosocial support in different classes, explained the center’s Head Registered Nurse Ann Robinson, who has worked at the facility for 26 years.

Patients typically begin their programs after a medical procedure or condition, and each patient’s program is designed by the facility’s team and the patient’s doctor, Robinson said.

When Flaherty first began attending the center, he was in “phase two” of the program, meaning the staff would monitor his medication, vitals and exercise for three months, he explained. Currently, Flaherty is in “phase three,” meaning the staff only monitors his medications, he said.

“Phase one” is the day that the patient is admitted to the hospital, and patients enter “phase two” when beginning the program after a physician’s referral, Robinson explained.

“Phase three” is optional for patients, but helps the facility reach its main goal of strengthening and educating its patients, as well as modifying their risk factors, she said.

Many patients choose to continue with “phase three” and to attend classes not only to maintain good health, but because of that comradery between staff and patients, she added.

“The patients like to come see us. It’s different than a gym; there you’re another number,” Robinson said. “We encourage our patients to be the best they can be. We have that rapport with them. Also, while taking the classes with other patients they won’t feel alone, and that they are the only one going through this. It’s almost like a support group.”

The members of the program have even started their own breakfast meetings, where a group of patients meet to take classes together in the morning while enjoying breakfast, Robinson said.

“I’ve known a lot of the others in the classes for years. They’re our friends,” Flaherty said. “To us, they’re kind of like family.”

Penny Critchley is a Bristol resident currently in “phase two” going through the program for the second time, she said.

“The staff is great,” Critchley said. “I suggest that everyone who has surgery go through the rehab program. It’s amazing, and it’s a great place.”

The 3,000-square-foot facility has been upgraded and moved to a couple different locations in the hospital since Flaherty began going there, he noted. The facility opened under its current name in 2014, after a donation from the Guida family.

Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-801-5088 or by email at

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol, General Business on Friday, 2 March 2018 20:01. Updated: Friday, 2 March 2018 20:04.