The Bridging Program

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The month of February is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and prevention, so that those at risk can make choices to live heart healthy lives.

The Bridging Program, which came about through a partnership between the R.C. Durr YMCA and St. Elizabeth Healthcare, is for people who have a cardiac health history who are wanting to make healthy changes in their lives.  Most of the participants in the program have been through St. Elizabeth’s Phase II Cardiac Rehab program and have chosen to continue their new healthy lifestyle at the Y.  Others in the program follow with a cardiologist and are wanting to reduce their risk factors for a cardiac event such as a heart attack, open heart surgery, etc.

Dennis is one of the members of the Bridging Program at the R.C. Durr YMCA.  On December 5, 1998, Dennis had a life changing experience; he went to St. Elizabeth’s Emergency Department with severe shortness of breath.  It was decided that Dennis would need to undergo bypass surgery - the doctors determined he needed five bypasses in all. 

Two months later, Dennis was enrolled into St. Elizabeth’s Phase II cardiac rehab program.  After completing rehab, Dennis was able to return to work as a mechanic within five months of his surgery.  He became an advocate for cardiac rehab, and has counseled many of his friends who have suffered from their own heart event about the importance of going to rehab and continuing the healthy lifestyle you learn there.  

After a year of continuing exercising on his own, Dennis found it difficult to keep himself motivated to continue exercising on his own. In 2016, he had a stent put in his heart.  After attending the phase II cardiac rehab at St. Elizabeth again, he knew he had to make and maintain healthy lifestyle changes after rehab.  Luckily, the Bridging Program at the R.C. Durr YMCA was designed.

“I enrolled at the Y and it’s been a wonderful experience,” Dennis said. “I would recommend it without reservation.”

The program consists of blood pressure monitoring before and after exercise, exercising for 30-60 minutes, and nutritional information.  Participants in the program are observed by an Exercise Physiologist from St. Elizabeth’s. Members are shown how to use the equipment on their first day.  They are encouraged to complete 30 to 45 minutes of cardio and 10 to 15 minutes of resistance training. 

Monthly nutrition handouts are given to each person and discussed.  If you or someone you know is currently in phase II cardiac rehab, or follows with a cardiologist and would like more information, contact the YMCA’s front desk.

“The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and do an excellent job,” Dennis said. “I have benefited greatly from this program.” 

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