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Features Health & Wellness ‘Macon Your Heart Beat’ fundraiser for AMC

Lex Ramey, cardiac rehab patientEvent seeks to raise money for cardiac rehab scholarships

Most people don’t think about cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation until a family member, a friend or they themselves need it. Most times, the individuals entering rehab may not fully understand why they are there. “I never thought this would happen to me.” “I’m not overweight” or “I stopped smoking years ago” or “I’m only 50 years old” is often heard. Not everyone who needs cardiac or pulmonary rehab fit the sedentary, smoking, 40 pounds overweight, 80-yearold mold.

At Angel Medical Center’s Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program Tom Forkner, MA and Kit Helm, MD direct an evergrowing rehab program filled with “atypical”patients. Other staff include dietitians, a psycho-social counselor, nurses, exercise specialists, and a vocational counselor. The staff utilizes their skills to individualize the therapy needed by the patients after receiving their physician’s referral to participate in the program.

While most insurance plans recognize and pay for 80 percent or more of the charges incurred by the program, many patients do not have full coverage, and sometimes don’t have coverage at all.

“These are the ones I am concerned about,” says Forkner, director of the Franklin program for 11 years. “Without insurance coverage, most people are not able to pay for rehab which is so beneficial and important to their full recovery and return to a normal and healthy life. That’s why I am developing a scholarship program through donations from special events like the upcoming ‘Macon Your Heart Beat 1 Mile and 5K walk/run’ on April 9. Anyone can participate by walking or running either the one-mile or the 5K (3.1 miles). Area businesses are being asked to sponsor the event, or to sponsor a participant in the event.”

One local company giving a generous donation to the walk/run is Shaw Industries, Inc., who supplies builders with flooring materials. They currently have two of their employees in the Cardiac Rehab Program.

“Both of these employees, one 45 years old and the other 53 years old, have done so well in rehab that we at Shaw want to thank Angel Medical Center for helping return our employees to full duty without restrictions. This is encouraging to others who work here, as well as throughout the community. We wanted to do something to show our appreciation,” said a spokesperson for Shaw.

One recent “graduate” from the program has implemented into his small business a change that will help others. Frank Myatt owns the local roller skating rink and bowling alley. Not only did he prohibit smoking there but he added many healthy food choices, and removed many of his previous “heart-attack items” from the menu.

“That’s what I love to see, a real commitment to improving not only his health, but to offer an opportunity to positively impact the lives of others,” says Dr. Helm, Medical Director of the Program. “Rehab is an underserved program in that nationally only one third of those having a life threatening event enter a rehab program. This is true often because the patient feels they can’t afford to participate after just amassing a hefty hospital and doctors’ bill. We hope to be able to offset some of the expense for those who need it and will benefit from rehab by this and other fund raising events throughout the year.”

How can you help? You can participate in the walk or run on Saturday, April 9, by registering online for the Macon Your Heart Beat 1 Mile and 5K Walk/Run at Active.com or come by and get a registration form from Tom Forkner at AMC Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, phone (828)349-8290. You may also register on the day of the walk/run. Donations can also be made through The Foundation for Angel Medical Center.


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