Fallbrook Hospital told patients that utilize its cardiac rehabilitation unit last week that the program will be shut down effective October 1.
“I believe there are about 40 active participants,” said patient John Watson. “We all rely on this monitored, therapy program and there is no alternative like it locally.”
When contacted about the decision, Fallbrook Hospital, which is operated by Tennessee-based Community Healthy Systems (CHS), responded with a statement indicating the program closure was necessary to maintain other services in order to provide “the most needed, quality care.”
“We continually evaluate the services we offer to ensure our resources are applied to meeting the greatest community need,” the statement read. “We have initiated steps to close our Cardiac Rehab Program effective October 1 to focus on our hospital-based services of acute and emergency care.”
While the hospital stated, “We will work closely with our patients to ensure the smoothest possible transition,” affected patients have not yet heard any suggestions regarding alternatives.
Watson said he and others hope the Fallbrook Healthcare District will seek a solution to the void in care.
“The Fallbrook Healthcare District is aware of the hospital’s announced impending closure of its cardiac rehabilitation services, and is currently exploring a number of different options to help mitigate any impact of the service change to our community,” said Vi Dupre, district administrator.
The cardiac rehabilitation program has focused on three key areas: exercise, counseling, and education. It has helped those who have experienced cardiac incidents, like heart attacks, towards a healthy recovery together with reducing their risk of future problems. Key goals have included toning muscles as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. It has provided patients with individualized instruction using provided exercise equipment and training regimens, along with counseling programs.
Over the past years, many cardiac rehabilitation patients have said the program “made a big difference” for them. Last year, Jim Whisnand, a patient who had suffered a heart attack, said, “[It helped me get] my stamina and endurance back; when I first got out of the hospital, I could barely walk.”
The monitoring devices used in the program have been instrumental to this specialized form of rehabilitation.
“The nurses move you along as you are ready; they work to build up your endurance,” said Whisnand. “They are able to monitor a person here in a totally different way; they run EKG strips on you every 10 minutes or so. It’s a different level of monitoring than at a regular health club or gym.”
Watson said he was told no one was losing their job as a result of the closure, which he was happy about, but he and others are concerned about the future of their personal rehabilitation and overall health due to the closure of the program.
“We have and are speaking to different entities candidly and confidentially about measures which will assist the community, and we look forward to providing additional, more specific information as it becomes available,” said Dupre.