October 23, 2012

CVPH cardiac rehab receives national certification


---- — PLATTSBURGH — The CVPH Cardiac Rehabilitation program has received official accolades for the services it provides to the region’s heart patients.

The program was recently granted certification by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, a national leader in promoting quality care for patients with cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.

“It’s a very nice recognition,” said Shirley Doolen, a registered nurse who runs the rehab program with Pamela Ryan, a certified clinical training specialist.

“As a national certifying organization, they set the standards for cardiac exercise and education. They’ve established guidelines for how to treat patients who’ve had a cardiac event.”

“Certification means that we are meeting or exceeding the national guidelines,” added Dr. Christopher Palma, a cardiologist with Lake Champlain Cardiology Associates. “It’s akin to board certification for a physician.”


Doolan and Ryan visit all patients at CVPH who are recovering from a heart attack or open-heart surgery to introduce them to the rehabilitation program.

Cardiovascular programs are designed to help people with cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and open-heart surgery. Services are designed to help them recover faster and improve their quality of life. Activities include exercise, education and counseling for patients and their families.

“We like to make sure our patients are aware of the program right from the start,” Palma said. “This is a service that has been proven to assist in a patient’s recovery and to enhance a patient’s quality of life.”

As people are recovering from a heart condition or treatment in the hospital, staff point them toward the road to recovery with initial therapy sessions.

Patients often have some reservations about beginning an exercise program soon after a cardiac event. Part of the benefit of the rehab program is they are closely monitored as they begin their personalized activities, a step that helps increase patient confidence.

People are also at a point, following surgery, when they can have more success in developing an exercise program. Prior to their episode, they were carrying out daily activities with often severe and unknown cardiac disease. Now, the problem has been addressed, and a patient is more capable of performing physical activities.

“Recovery is a process,” Palma said. “When we decide to treat a patient for a certain problem, part of our overall plan is recovery, and that includes such steps as rehab services.

“Cardiac rehab is a safety net.”


Patients attend the rehab program over a 12-week period, spending an hour in the center three times each week. As they perform a series of exercises, they are closely monitored for heart rates and blood pressure.

Dietitians also work with them to focus on healthy eating habits, and the staff works constantly on education to improve the patient’s understanding of heart disease and healthy habits.

As people graduate from the outpatient program, they are expected to continue with a regular exercise program and a consistently healthy diet at home.

The CVPH Cardiac Rehabilitation program is part of the Champlain Valley Heart Center, which was established in 2005 as CVPH expanded the cardiac services it provided locally, including open-heart surgery. The center also provides catherizations, electrophysiology and such non-invasive programs as echocardiograms and stress testing. 

The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, founded in 1985, is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to reducing morbidity, mortality and disability from cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.

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