Cardiac Rehab: The room with a view

By: Michelle Anderson, RN

What do laughs, dark chocolate, game shows, great music, treadmills and sunshine all have in common?

Welcome to Cardiac Rehab at Holy Family, in affiliation with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network! As I sit and ponder what the cardiac rehab department is all about and why I chose to work here, many things come to mind! I get to work in a department with a “view”! Not only do we have windows that allow us to see the sunshine or rain, or snow and cold, but we get a “window” into the worlds of our patients as well. We get to enjoy game shows and great music!

Patients are referred to our program after having a heart attack, stent or heart surgery. Cardiac rehab is a life-changing step in each patient’s journey to recovery and wellness. We have the privilege of helping them not only get back on track with fitness or tasks of daily living but also recover from emotional/mental challenges. I love to teach our patients about their heart health! As a member of the “Zipper Club” (open heart patient myself), I am able to share from my own experiences the tricks of recovery. I also have more than 20 years of experience working in cardiology.

We get to know our patients on a personal level. Our sessions are filled with laughter and encouragement. Each one-hour session is a fun-filled time. We have had mini-concerts, shared recipes and patients shared their own stories with each other. We have a class called “Coping with Life’s Challenges”. Our dietician comes in weekly for a session on healthy eating with a variety of topics (hence the “dark chocolate”).

Cardiac rehab helps patients improve their outcomes post-heart events and really is an enjoyable experience. Don’t just take my word for it. Let me share some comments from past participants:

  • “Knowing that I was being monitored during activity made me feel secure with exercising and gave me the confidence I need to be able to continue exercising and also perform my daily activities”.
  • “Great staff, fun class!”
  • “Just a wonderful program.”
  • “Very enjoyable experience.”
  • “The staff and program were both outstanding and I would highly recommend it to anyone who needs it.”
  • “I looked forward to each of my sessions.”

We currently are participating in a pilot project for hybrid cardiac rehab. This enables us to offer an app that lets patients exercise on their own and in person. They can view educational opportunities and track their activity on the app. It has been great to offer this during these trying times of the pandemic.

Each patient’s cardiac rehab graduation day is filled with mixed emotions for me. I am sad to see each individual go as we develop a close bond with each one, but I am so happy to see all they have accomplished!