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Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at SMMC Helps COPD Sufferers Lead Active Lives


Eighty-two year-old Registered Nurse Betty Lones from Falmouth had always led an active life. From treating patients to raising three boys, she was constantly on the go. So when Betty experienced several bad episodes with her breathing she knew that something was wrong.

Betty was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as COPD. After receiving treatment Betty was weak and just wasn’t able to bounce back. “My goal was to get back to a fairly active life again. I wanted to cope with the way it is and manage the best I can.” So Betty’s doctor, Yasmin Mahal from Chest Medicine Associates in South Portland, referred her to the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program at Southern Maine Medical Center. “Dr. Mahal said it was the best place to go for help to get back my strength and endurance,” said Betty. “And she was right!”

Betty was evaluated by SMHC’s pulmonary rehabilitation team and they developed a program tailored to meet her needs. “The staff provided wonderful information about the disease,” said Betty. “They cover just about anything you want to know. The education includes nutrition and anatomy which helps you to understand your situation so you are better able to care for yourself. They also helped me select the right equipment for my needs and showed me how to use it. The staff gives you confidence and makes you feel comfortable. It’s a wonderful feeling to get answers to your questions.

“In addition to the education, my program consisted of using various machines, walking and lifting weights to build up my endurance. The staff monitored my heart, oxygen and blood pressure during the exercises. They are very reassuring and are always looking after you. I just finished a 24-week program and I’m back on my feet. I can’t say enough good things about what the people here have done!”

Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a structured exercise and education program for individuals with lung diseases such as COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer. “Individuals experiencing shortness of breath, cough, fatigue and decreased physical abilities may attribute these symptoms to getting older,” said SMHC Pulmonary Rehabilitation RN Katherine Murdough.” These complaints are often the first signs of chronic lung disease.  Individuals with these symptoms should talk to their primary care provider. Simple spirometry testing is available to assist physicians in identifying persons who have COPD. Because the number one cause of COPD is cigarette smoking, the single most important thing anyone can do to improve their health is quit smoking.”

SMMC is offering free COPD information sessions at 6 p.m. on April 2, 9, 16 and 23. Dr. Scott Morin and SMHC’s Respiratory Care Specialists will discuss the causes of COPD;  breathing tests used to diagnose COPD;  treatment for COPD, including the use of inhalers; and  the importance of improving your symptoms, reducing respiratory infections and getting as healthy and strong as possible.  Please call 283-7988 for more information or to register.

SMMC also encourages any member of the community affected by lung disease to join the Better Breathers Club support group which meets the second Wednesday of each month from 1:15-2:30pm at SMHC PrimeCare, 9 Healthcare Drive in Biddeford. For more information please call 283-7789.

If you are a smoker and would like to quit, SMHC offers the “Be Tobacco Free” Program free of charge. Please call 283-7988 to register.

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