Ask Janet Sayers about Windham Hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, and you will get an expansive smile and the quiet assertion that “this has been one of the best experiences of my life!”
Mrs. Sayers is a retired second-grade teacher and a veteran of the cardiac rehabilitation program at Windham Hospital—a 36-session cardiovascular health “crash course” that includes classes in nutrition, medication management, aerobic exercise, and stress management in a relaxed setting. “I had a heart attack,” she says, “and the doctors—both my regular doctor and my cardiologist—recommended that I attend the cardiac rehab program as a follow-up to treatment.”
From the first, she “appreciated the obvious compassion, competence and expertise of the staff. They give you some great information, and they cover a wide range of topics. There were some presentations about yoga and massage for relaxation—some nice alternatives to traditional Western medicine. And the staff really treats you as a whole human being, and not just an anonymous set of symptoms. It’s really refreshing and reassuring,” she says. “After experiencing a cardiac problem, it’s difficult sometimes to know what you can do—how much activity is too much? But the staff instills confidence in everyone, while they teach and reinforce lifestyle, diet, and activity-level changes in a group setting.
They tailor the program to each individual, and they monitor you so closely, so you feel safe and able to do your best. You can really push yourself, and not worry about it, because they are monitoring blood pressure and heart rate, watching to make sure you’re OK. It’s very comforting.” “I liked the group members, too,” she continues, “I met some really nice people, from all walks of life.
We all shared common concerns, helped each other… you’re all experiencing some of the same anxieties and stresses. The group is a big help, and I think it takes some of the burden away from the family—you know, you get the encouragement you need to be able to stick to your program. If your family members tell you to do something—maybe change what you’re eating—you may not be so inclined to listen.
But when the group tells you…it’s just different, you know they share your pain.”Although the members of her group have all “graduated” from the rehab program, they stay in touch with each other and get together socially. “It’s a nice network of support, and it’s great that we can continue it,” she comments.
Mrs. Sayers says she would “recommend the cardiac rehab program to anyone, without hesitation. I can’t say enough about how good—how special—this program is, and I hope it continues for a long, long time, so others can experience its benefits.
I came to Windham when I had my heart attack, received excellent care and a quick referral into Hartford for more care. But when I was on the road to recovery, I was so grateful that the cardiac rehab program was right here in Willimantic. It is an excellent program, and it was exactly what I needed. I knew I was in the best of hands, and that made all the difference in the world.”