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Feature Article Friendship Motivates Healthy Habits

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Denny Haney has been dedicated to his weekly exercise program for nearly two decades because of his friends. He joined Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center’s cardiac rehab in 1999 for preventive care after being diagnosed with high blood pressure.

“I have (exercise) equipment at home, but this group has become a social group which promotes my mental health,” said Haney. “It’s easy to find reasons to skip (workouts), so I like to treat the group as a doctor’s appointment that I have three times a week.”

Patients in the group consist of those who have either suffered a heart-related event, are working to improve heart health, or who are the spouse of a cardiac patient.

“I have had two heart attacks and I enjoy the cardiac rehab program because the staff is fun to be around and the group has become friends,” said Les Whittle, a patient.

Whittle explained that the program at Good Sam has staff present while patients exercise so if a pulse or blood pressure reading is needed, they can check it immediately.

When a new patient joins the group, Quinn Griffis, manager of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, will occasionally match them with others who have had a similar heart experience, encouraging camaraderie within the group.

“I joined the group two years ago and was very apprehensive,” said Joan Boxall, a patient. “Within a few months I felt comfortable and have become ‘forever’ friends with the other participants.”

The 12-week program is covered by most insurance companies, but patients are also able to pay out-of-pocket for the program. There are scholarships available for patients who are not covered and are unable to afford the program. Although physician referral is required to participate in Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the department also offers programs such as Cardiovascular Health and Prevention and a transition program which offer more instruction and support from staff.

Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation is available in Albany, Corvallis, Lebanon and Newport. For more information visit samhealth.org/CardiacRehab or samhealth.org/PulmonaryRehab.