September 17, 2013

Wellness Center offers many rehab opportunities


---- — PLATTSBURGH — Louis Lafontaine has used a world of determination along with a regular exercise program to help turn his life around.

The Plattsburgh man was struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and dangerously low HDL (the good cholesterol). 

At 64, he knew he had to do something to change those statistics if he were to continue living a productive life as he moved into his retirement years.

Over the last several weeks, he has taken steps to improve his overall diet and has successfully developed an exercise regime through the New Steps program at the Wellness Center at PARC.

“It’s the best investment I’ve ever made,” he said of his decision to enroll. “I’m feeling fantastic. I’m more energetic, and I’m able to focus more directly on things that I do.”


The Wellness Center has several programs designed to help manage chronic health conditions or to transition from a sedentary lifestyle to a regular fitness routine.

“There are so many benefits from increased activity,” said Nicole Williams, wellness coordinator and medical-integration coordinator for the Wellness Center.

“Any of our programs are designed around an individual exercise plan, and each includes specialized guidance by our trained staff.”

Lafontaine actually entered the PARC’s rehabilitation program for an injured knee but then transferred into the Steps Program when rehab was completed.

Upon successfully completing the Steps Program, he chose to remain an active member and uses the facility’s equipment daily, if not more than once on occasional days.

“The goal of the eight-week program is to increase physical activity while improving confidence and comfort levels,” Williams said.

“The final goal is to become independent (with an exercise program) by either transitioning into a regular membership or, if they choose not to become a member, making sure they go home with a fitness program.”


Specific areas in the Steps Program include transitional care to help people become and stay more active in their lifestyles; pulmonary fitness to transition those from pulmonary rehab to an independent exercise routine; and weight management to focus on the best method for shredding pounds.

Other areas focus on orthopedic fitness, prehab fitness (for upcoming surgical procedures), cardiac fitness, diabetes fitness and cancer fitness.

Sandra Baker completed a pulmonary-rehab program at CVPH Medical Center earlier this year and transitioned into the Wellness Center’s Next Step program, where she has enjoyed tremendous success.

“I love it,” she said of her daily workouts at PARC. “I’m always going to have breathing problems, but it’s helped me deal with those problems. 

“I’m more physically active, and I’ve been able to maintain my quality of life.”


Baker has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lost part of a lung in 2000 when she was battling cancer. But the combined efforts of the CVPH Pulmonary Rehab Program and Next Step, she has learned to live life to its fullest without fear of not being able to take another breath.

Marge Benschskey, who is enrolled in the center’s orthopedic rehab program, also benefits from her routine workouts.

“I’ve seen much improvement in my leg,” she said of her recovery from a knee replacement last April. “My joints feel like they’re almost back to normal, and I am able to go upstairs and downstairs at home.”

Routine workouts have also helped her emotionally. A good friend died recently, and exercise has helped improve Benschskey’s outlook on life.

“I am very much improved spiritually and mentally,” she said. “I’m a stronger, better person.”

Email Jeff



Find out about the Next Step Program at the Wellness Center at PARC by calling 324-2024. Ask for the medical-integration coordinator or the fitness manager.