|Pulmonary wellness is a service that is becoming more and more vital to many people, and OCH Regional Medical Center is on the cutting edge of this quickly expanding area of respiratory therapy. With this new service, OCH offers Starkville area residents the opportunity to participate in a program that enables them to "breathe easy."|
According to OCH Respiratory Care Director Wes Andrews, RRT, the emotional and psychological benefits of pulmonary wellness are many. "OCH's Pulmonary Wellness Program helps those who are going through a vicious cycle in which an activity leads to shortness of breath, causing them to fear it and make the decision not to perform the activity again. The idea that one can not breathe during normal activities can seriously alter one's lifestyle," Andrews said. "Usually these ideas are stemmed from an underlying respiratory cause such as asthma or emphysema, but with treatment, a person can be retrained to breathe properly, using the lung capacity remaining after damage resulting from respiratory diseases."
OCH created the pulmonary wellness program to address the needs of respiratory patients who were experiencing frequent emergency room admissions due to their chronic conditions. From this scenario, two goals were established for the program when it was initiated last October. One was reducing the number of rebound admissions, specifically respiratory patients, and the second was to help build a healthier community. "With commitment from patients, these goals can be attained," Andrews said. "A patient's determination and commitment to change his current lifestyle are of paramount importance to his success."
A typical pulmonary wellness program lasts three months or longer. According to the director, the patient first needs to consult with his physician, who will schedule a screening and evaluation with a respiratory therapist if the need is determined. After the screening process, the patient begins the program, which includes three steps of progression. A discussion between the therapist and patient provides information about his particular disease, options the patient has on a reality-based perception and what the pulmonary wellness therapy will entail.
The teaching module is the next step. "To achieve pulmonary wellness, patients sometimes need instruction from areas other than respiratory care. For example, if a patient has a physical handicap in addition to his respiratory problems, a physical therapist will be called in to help; or if a patient needs to follow a specific diet to help his breathing results, the dietitian will set up a consultation and develop a menu to better the patient's situation," the therapist said. "Our patients are also able to use resources through OCH's Cardiac Rehabilitation Department-so it's easy to see that OCH's Pulmonary Wellness Program is a team approach."
Exercise is the final module and possibly the most vital, Andrews said, because the patient must make this part of his new lifestyle. "Patients start with 'baby-steps' and move to more advanced exercise in order to strengthen their muscles and circulatory system," he said, adding that exercise also helps the body become more efficient in utilizing oxygen. "When patients exercise in our program, we constantly perform cardiac monitoring and pulse oximetry monitoring, which measures the blood oxygen level in their blood during exercise."
"As each patient progresses in his exercise routine, he may gradually move on to another individualized program at OCH's Wellness Connection," Andrews continued, stressing that pulmonary wellness is a continual process of medicine and maintenance. "Most patients that have been associated with this program have experienced success with it," he said. "One of our main goals is to attain a 40-60 percent reduction of rebound admissions, and this program is clearly helping us to do so."
For more information about OCH's pulmonary or respiratory services, contact Andrews at (662) 615-3110.