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WMC cardiac rehab gives new lease on life to participants

Fulton Greer, Larry Holmes, Sonja Scales and Brandi McConnell, R.N. during the WMC Cardiac Care Reunion last week.
Photos by Pam Horne 

Ask Larry Holmes if he still enjoys his favorite pastime even though triple bypass surgery sidelined him last year and he’ll tell you he is preparing to run a half marathon next month.
Holmes’ story is just one of several that was celebrated last week during a reunion of cardiac rehabilitation participants at Williamson Medical Center.
A buffet of food fit for heart healthy living, an enthusiastic group of nurses and hospital volunteers and a crowd of reinvigorated patients set the stage for what seemed more like a high school reunion than a heart attack survivors’ gathering.
Jim Echart of Thompson’s Station and Frazier Albert of Arrington
WMC has been providing outpatient cardiac rehab services for several years in an effort to allow patients the convenience of gaining important post-surgical therapy without traveling far from home.
Where the patient receives cardiac care doesn’t matter, said WMC spokesman Melonee Hurt. What matters, she said, is that patients actually follow up and complete a rehab program after heart surgery.
That can be easier said than done according to Jim Echart of Thompson’s Station and Frazier Albert of Arrington.
Both men participated in the weekly classes and admitted that committing to coming to the program can be a challenge, especially during the winter months.
But both men underscored that they understood that their future health depended on disciplined attendance.
In between learning how to manage heart disease through diet and exercise, the group of rehab participants have gained a collegial friendship that can be an important part of them finishing the program.
Debbie Stephens, of Thompson Station, and George Hatcher, of Franklin, actually grew up together in Williamson County, attending College Grove High School. 
In between trying to return to full-time jobs, they both said coming to the class was important to their recovery.
They will both attend their class reunion this year, Stephens said.
Holmes, a self-employed accountant, has been a runner for decades. His long time career with CPS Industries in Franklin introduced him to the Franklin Classic, which he helped organize for many years.
“My story is I didn’t have much in the way of symptoms when I was running I noticed that I had some chest pain.”
It was during a routine physical when Holmes explained the pain to his doctor that he realized his heart was not functioning properly.
The results of an EKG led his doctor to refer him to a cardiologist for an 
“I thought maybe I might have a little blockage and I’d have to have a stent put in,” Holmes explained.
But what was detected was much more serious: three blockages to the heart.
When the doctor suggested that he “was a perfect candidate for full bypass surgery.” Holmes was caught off guard, especially when the surgeon told him he was being admitted to the hospital immediately with surgery scheduled the next day.
“I had surgery the next morning and they actually found four blockages,” he said of his operation at St. Thomas Hospital.
“Bless the doctors they found it and I didn’t have a heart attack, so I have no heart damage.” 
A longtime Brentwood resident, Holmes relocated to downtown Franklin following the passing of his wife Joan. 
Holmes, a longtime organizer of the Franklin Classic Run, had to become a walker before he could return to running.
“The program here is wonderful. It’s an exercise program for people recovering from heart disease. They start with nominal time on the treadmill and light weights. Over a period of three months they work you up to where you are doing more. They have classes that cover nutrition, medications, diet, and the psychological aspects of coping following surgery.
For me personally it was very good to give me boundaries because I wanted to get back out and run. These gals Brandy and Heather (nurses with WMC’s cardiac program), they were real sweethearts.” 
“It provides a good progress plan to full recovery, but it also gives you the boundaries. This program, I just think it’s wonderful,” said Holmes with an expression of appreciation. “A year later, I’m going to run a half marathon.”
WMC’s Cardiac Rehab program is located on the ground floor of the hospital’s physician’s tower.

Don Packard, Janice Schuler, R.N., Douglas Johnson, Cal Shiver and Jenny Shults, R.N. celebrate the success of a year long program to overcome heart disease.

Posted on: 2/20/2014


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