Perkasie Resident Stays Active in Community Theater with Help of Grand View Hospital Pulmonary Rehab
|(April 14, 2011) Sellersville, PA - Community theater actor and director Fran Girard of Perkasie got a dramatic wake-up call when an episode of erratic breathing struck following a dinner out three years ago. Afraid to drive home, the then 75-year-old handed the car keys to his wife BJ. Fortunately, his breathing returned to normal by the time they reached home.
This out-of-the-blue episode, a first for Girard, prompted a call to his physician, who ordered a pulmonary function test (PFT) to determine his lung function and lung volume. Test results revealed that the long-time smoker was in the early stages of emphysema, a disease with symptoms that can include shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, chronic coughing, reduced capacity for physical activity, and fatigue.
His physician referred him for pulmonary rehabilitation, which uses low impact exercise to combat the affects of chronic lung disease. Girard began pulmonary rehabilitation at Grand View Hospital’s Outpatient Center at Sellersville under the direction of respiratory therapist Kim Ryan, CRT, Coordinator of
Pulmonary rehabilitation at Grand View helps keep Fran Girard of Perkasie active in Bucks County community theater despite having emphysema. His recent credits include directing Arthur Miller’s ‘All My Sons’ and playing the role of Rabbi in “Bermuda Avenue Triangle’ at Town & Country Players in Buckingham.
|Pulmonary Rehabilitation. “Our goal is to improve a patient’s lung function and lung capacity to slow progression of the disease,” Ryan said, who has been a respiratory therapist at Grand View for 11 years and has 27 years of clinical hospital experience.
Breathing difficulties can diminish one’s quality of life and interfere with completing everyday tasks such as personal grooming and carrying groceries. “Pulmonary rehabilitation can make a big difference for these people. It can help them manage their respiratory challenges, regain an active lifestyle, and improve one’s outlook on life,” Ryan said. Pulmonary rehabilitation benefits people with chronic lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, occupational lung disease, and other lung problems. “Symptoms are generally mild to begin with but steadily get worse as lung disease progresses,” Ryan said.
Rehabilitation is available at Grand View Monday through Friday from 8am to 3pm. For oxygen-dependent patients, Grand View supplies their oxygen during rehabilitation sessions. Entering the program requires a referral for pulmonary rehabilitation and cardiac clearance from a physician. During an initial consultation for pulmonary rehabilitation, a respiratory therapist will review a patient’s PFT results, personal health history, disease severity, and degree of conditioning.
This information is used to develop an individualized rehabilitation plan complete with low impact exercise, education, and ongoing support. “Many who come to pulmonary rehabilitation have not exercised in years so they get nervous seeing weights, stationary bicycles, treadmills, and arm ergometers,” Ryan said. “Once they get started and see improvements in their breathing and ability to do things, they want to stay with it.”
Exercise equipment is located in a comfort-controlled room on the ground level of the Outpatient Center at Sellersville for easy patient access. “With the affects of respiratory conditions lasting year-round, this program gets people exercising and rehabilitating despite the weather. Cold temperatures and high humidity are particularly bothersome for someone with breathing difficulties,” Ryan said
Since Girard’s frightening episode, pulmonary rehabilitation has helped manage symptoms and slow progression of his emphysema. He is currently in a maintenance program and completes a one-hour session three days a week consisting of two miles on the treadmill and five miles on a stationary bicycle. The therapist’s upbeat attitude is one reason people like Girard stay in the program. “Kim makes it fun. It’s like a social event for good friends and we all look forward to it,” Girard said. Enjoyment is important because, “If you discontinue rehabilitation, you go back to square one,” warned Ryan. Since people often form strong bonds during rehabilitation, Ryan was not surprised when several of them recently went to see Girard play the part of a Rabbi in ‘Bermuda Avenue Triangle’ at Town and Country Players in Buckingham.
Considering himself fortunate his emphysema is not worse than it is, Girard urges smokers to quit, especially young people. “I began at age 18 and smoked for almost 40 years,” he lamented. He finally quit in 1989 after learning about harmful affects of nicotine and its addictive nature. “I see people who are not so lucky. They need oxygen.”
For those who want to quit smoking, Grand View periodically offers a ‘Clearing the Air: Smoking Cessation’ program. The hospital also hosts a ‘Better Breathers’ support group at Penn Foundation in Sellersville on the third Tuesday of every month from 10:30 am to noon during March through December. Both programs are free. Registration is required. Register by calling the Grand View Information Line at 215-453-4300 or visit www.gvh.org for more information about these and other programs.
Believing an active lifestyle keeps him young, the 78-year-old is busy gathering ideas for his next theater production -- writing a three-act play.
About Grand View Hospital’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
Grand View’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is accredited by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) and can help relieve symptoms, increase health and fitness, and improve quality of life. A program consisting of education, exercise, and breathing re-training is designed for each individual.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is often beneficial for people with chronic lung problems such as:
Grand View’s pulmonary rehabilitation is open Monday through Friday, from 8am to 3 pm. A physician referral is required for admission to the pulmonary rehabilitation program. Medicare, Medical Assistance, and most major insurance companies cover all or part of the cost of the program. For more information about the program, call 215-453-3250 or visit www.gvh.org.
- Chronic bronchitis
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Occupational; lung disease
- Environmental lung disease
About Grand View Hospital
Grand View Hospital, Bucks County’s first hospital, has provided residents of Bucks and Montgomery counties with comprehensive health care services since 1913. Grand View offers a range of inpatient and outpatient care – particularly emphasizing the areas of surgery and orthopaedics, women's and children's health, heart and vascular care, and cancer treatment. HealthGrades®, the nation’s leading healthcare ratings company, awarded Grand View the Patient Safety Excellence Award™ for three consecutive years, 2008, 2009, and 2010. In addition, Grand View is the only hospital in Bucks and Montgomery Counties to receive a five-star quality rating in total joint replacement for 2010 from HealthGrades®. The American Stroke Association recently awarded Grand View Hospital its Get with the GuidelinesSM–Stroke (GWTG–Stroke) Gold Performance Achievement Award.