BRISTOL - Patients are first referred to Bristol Hospitalâ€™s Bernie Guida Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center by a physician, but return for its comradery.
â€śThereâ€™s a lot of comradery here. Thatâ€™s one of the reasons you come here,â€ť 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 patientâ€™s needs.
The three phases cover exercise, education, nutrition, counseling and psychosocial support in different classes, explained the centerâ€™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 patientâ€™s program is designed by the facilityâ€™s team and the patientâ€™s doctor, Robinson said.
When Flaherty first began attending the center, he was in â€śphase twoâ€ť of the program, meaning the staff would monitor his medication, vitals and exercise for three months, he explained. Currently, Flaherty is in â€śphase three,â€ť meaning the staff only monitors his medications, he said.
â€śPhase oneâ€ť is the day that the patient is admitted to the hospital, and patients enter â€śphase twoâ€ť when beginning the program after a physicianâ€™s referral, Robinson explained.
â€śPhase threeâ€ť 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 â€śphase threeâ€ť and to attend classes not only to maintain good health, but because of that comradery between staff and patients, she added.
â€śThe patients like to come see us. Itâ€™s different than a gym; there youâ€™re another number,â€ť Robinson said. â€śWe 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 wonâ€™t feel alone, and that they are the only one going through this. Itâ€™s almost like a support group.â€ť
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.
â€śIâ€™ve known a lot of the others in the classes for years. Theyâ€™re our friends,â€ť Flaherty said. â€śTo us, theyâ€™re kind of like family.â€ť
Penny Critchley is a Bristol resident currently in â€śphase twoâ€ť going through the program for the second time, she said.
â€śThe staff is great,â€ť Critchley said. â€śI suggest that everyone who has surgery go through the rehab program. Itâ€™s amazing, and itâ€™s a great place.â€ť
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 email@example.com.