By Denise Williams
In the lead-up to Cardiac Rehab Week, we invited members to create brief videos in observation of this year’s event, which had to be reimagined in light of the pandemic. Each “A Day in the Life” compilation, conveying the most beloved aspects of the profession, was shared on social media and entered into a contest. While all of the submissions were exceptional, kudos are in order for Northwest Community Healthcare (NHP), Cardiopulmonary Rehab, which has been crowned the victor! The Arlington Heights, IL, practice won over voters on the AACVPR Board with a touching video that captured the staff’s strong commitment to serving its community during an extremely trying time. It also earned itself two free registrations to AACVPR’s 36th Annual Meeting!
Anne M. Gavic-Ott, MPA, RCEP, MAACVPR, who manages the unit, says she and her crew refused to let the restrictions of the pandemic keep them from getting into the spirit of things. To celebrate, the CR staff sported AACVPR Cardiac Rehab Staff t-shirts, enjoyed a group lunch and shared different treats as the week progressed. Gavic-Ott also was pleased with NHP’s February newsletter, which featured one of the group’s exercise physiologists and also shone a spotlight on a brand-new virtual CR program.
The activities didn’t end there, though, adds Gavic-Ott, who says her staff also wanted to bring CR patients in on the fun. “As a way to engage our patients and enhance their education, the staff created three short quizzes, focused on cold weather safety, label reading and general exercise and nutrition concepts,” she explains. “Any patient who completed the quiz, regardless of score, was entered into a raffle for some cute heart-related prizes. We also had healthy snacks on hand during the week to share with patients.”
This contest-winning bunch found a way to recognize the program, patients and staff alike during Cardiac Rehab Week—all while having a little fun. They weren’t the only ones, however, who worked around the ongoing public health crisis to commemorate Cardiac Rehab Week.
Over in Pennsylvania, the Cardiac Rehab department at Main Line Health (MLH) decked the facility’s gym with posters and balloons bearing this year’s theme of “Beating Strong, Living Long.” Like many other programs across the country, Ruth Akers, RN, BSN, MS, FAACVPR, found that giving small tokens of appreciation to patients was a perfect way to safely participate in this year’s national event. “Cardiac Rehab Week is not just celebrating the professionals who work in the field but for all those brave patients who have heart disease and are taking steps to live healthier lifestyles,” adds Akers, director of Cardiac Rehab Services and Cardiovascular Imaging Services at MLH-Newtown Square. With that in mind, patients were gifted a personal baggie containing masks, hand sanitizer, and dark chocolates—which are, of course, known for their heart-healthy properties.
Also in Pennsylvania, Jill Fox, BSN, RN-BC, FAACVPR, with UPMC Somerset says her unit approached the celebration from another angle. “We put patients’ names in for a drawing for a gym membership each time they met a goal,” such as getting blood pressure at or under target or losing a pound of weight. Can you say win-win?! Fox, who serves as Cardiovascular & Pulmonary Rehab Coordinator, notes that the gym membership doesn’t have an expiration date, so the patient who scores it can wait to redeem it until after being vaccinated if that is more comfortable.
In East Central Indiana, meanwhile, a celebration under the banner of “5 Days of Focus” made for a lively work week over at IU Health Ball, Blackford and Jay Hospitals. According to Katrina Riggin, MS, it all kicked off with Motivational Monday, which offered everyone an opportunity to reflect upon what powers their interest in rehab. Up next was Tech Tuesday, which covered new Fitbits and pedometers and how they benefit rehab participants. Riggin, Manager of Ancillary Services, said that because many patients developed some gait instability while under quarantine, Walking Wednesday was dedicated to safe walking strategies and fall prevention. Hydration and fluid restrictions for all different recommendations followed on Thirsty Thursday, and the week capped off on Flex Friday with an emphasis on stretching as well as strength and resistance training. Riggin says the department also “went virtual” to reach audiences via podcasts on PAD, Stroke Awareness and other topics and through social media and other platforms.
Other programs celebrated, but took a more low-key approach, to Cardiac Rehab Week. The team at Corrigan Minehan Heart Center at Massachusetts General Hospital usually doesn’t celebrate it separately, preferring instead to roll it into a larger observance of Heart Month. But even the most toned-down festivities have had to be tweaked because of COVID-19. Kate Traynor, RN, MS, MAACVPR, usually bakes goodies for the team; but, this year, she says, she packaged all of the treats to be distributed and enjoyed individually.