Cardiac Rehab facility once again shows its value

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Photo by Josh Mcdonald/ Bonnie Connell along with her husband John show off their skills on the exercise equipment alongside SMC cardiac rehab nurse Amber Melun. Bonnie has been utilizing Shoshone Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center following heart surgery last year.

KELLOGG – Shoshone Medical Center’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program recently had its second birthday, but despite the program still being in its infancy, it has already shown to be an incredible asset for the local community.

Last year, after undergoing surgery for an aortic valve replacement, Kingston resident Bonnie Connell was going to need a place where she could safely begin rehabilitating her heart. So instead of having to make the trip over the hill to Coeur d’Alene three times a week, she has been able to drive to SMC in Kellogg.

“This place was a Godsend,” Bonnie said. “I was pretty weak and traveling was difficult.”

Bonnie credits her nurse, Kelly Lebsack, with getting her through the intensive 12-week rehabilitation course.

“When I first got here, a trip up and down the hall (which is part of the exercise), was very slow,” Bonnie said.

After 36 sessions, three times a week, Bonnie has officially (as Friday, February 28) completed her rehabilitation and is one of SMC’s Cardiac Rehabilitation graduates.

“Physical improvement is obviously very important,” cardiac rehabilitation nurse Amber Melun said. “What isn’t captured as often and often goes unnoticed by even the patient, is the emotional change. People come into this class after they’ve crashed a bit. They never thought it could happen to them. You see people who are very active and are in great shape that otherwise wouldn’t have a heart attack, then they have a heart attack. It takes an emotional toll.”

Melun has watched the program not only help recovering patients, but also help jumpstart healthier lifestyles for entire families.

“You get to know people, their families, you are spending a lot of time with them. If people are looking to improve their lives after a cardiac event they have to completely change their lifestyle. And we can help do that,” Melun said.

Bonnie’s husband John has worked this rehabilitation out with his wife and embraced the active, exercise component of it himself.

“It is always a perk when the spouses or partners get involved,” Melun said. “A lot of times there is a lot of change that has to happen, from exercise to how they cook and it was awesome to watch John be here and be supportive of his wife.”

For more information on the Shoshone Medical Center Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, call (208) 784-1221.

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