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Florida Hospital Fish Memorial Launches Jump Start Program

ORANGE CITY, Fla., January 23, 2014 – Florida Hospital Fish Memorial has just launched a new educational and exercise program for patients who are uninsured, or have high co-pays, or do not qualify for traditional cardiac or pulmonary rehab. It’s called “Jump Start – Return to Exercise” and it offers participants an affordable medically-supervised exercise program. 

Through the Jump Start program at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, participants receive group support, as well as medical supervision, as they improve exercise compliance and endurance through the use of treadmills, stationary bicycles and other exercise equipment. All of this is done under the supervision of nurses, respiratory therapists and an exercise physiologist while vital signs, telemetry and response are closely monitored.

“Patients diagnosed with chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease or congestive heart failure can benefit from the structure and support of a medically-supervised program,” said Debra Allison, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial director of cardiopulmonary services. “Supervised exercise programs like Jump Start are designed to help patients recover faster and studies have shown that they can help patients feel better faster, have more stamina, get stronger, feel less stress and depression, prevent future heart problems, and live longer.”

Deltona residents Peter and Noreen Welch both come to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial’s Wellness Center for exercise; Peter, 67, is enrolled in the traditional cardiac rehab program and Noreen, 66, is enrolled in the Jump Start program. 

Peter has suffered with atrial fibrillation, or more commonly known as a-fib or an irregular heartbeat, since 1997 and had a pacemaker placed in 2013. After the procedure, his physician suggested cardiac rehab and referred him to the Orange City hospital. 

“It was hard when I first started,” he said. “Before, the only exercise I did was maintaining my yard.” 

But with time, he’s seen improvements, doubling the time he can exercise on the equipment. 

Once when Peter pushed himself too hard on the treadmill, his heart rate became irregular and the staff was immediately by his side to help him. They even proactively sent a report to his cardiologist to keep him informed. 

“I like that they have someone watching my heart rate at all times,” Peter said. “I like how close it is here. They are here to help you.”

Two weeks after Peter started cardiac rehab at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial, his wife, Noreen, decided she wanted to join him. She was diagnosed with diabetes, has spine issues and had a minor heart attack several years ago and thought she would be a candidate for the program. Unfortunately, her insurance company said her conditions did not meet the criteria for cardiac rehab and would not cover it. That’s when she decided to join the Jump Start program. 

Now, both she and Peter go to Florida Hospital Fish Memorial three times a week for their medically-supervised exercise sessions. 

“They treat you just like a real patient,” Noreen said of the Jump Start program. “They are constantly monitoring you. They encourage you, but let you set your own pace. It gives you a lot of confidence.”

Noreen wears a back brace for extra support on her spine.

“When I first started a few weeks ago, I wasn’t strong enough to stand long enough in the shower, but now, I can shower and get ready in the mornings without a problem,” she said. “The exercise has helped me manage my diabetes and my blood pressure has improved.”

According to recent data from the American Family Physician, patients who have had a heart attack and then participate in a comprehensive cardiac rehab program have a 15 to 28 percent reduction in all-cause mortality and a 26 to 31 percent reduction in cardiac mortality. Approximately 50 percent of the cardiac reduction in mortality is attributed to lifestyle changes and improvements in cardiovascular risk profiles. One way to accomplish those changes and improvements is through a medically-supervised exercise program. 

“Our patients improve greatly as they increase their strength and stamina, as seen in the pre and post exercise tests,” said Laura Anne Roemmelt, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial wellness center coordinator. “From when our patients begin their exercise to when they graduate, they can expect to see a 73 percent increase in MET [workload] level and duration of exercise.”

The ultimate goal is to help patients establish a healthy exercise regime and teach them how to monitor themselves so that they can safely exercise at home or at a gym. Peter and Noreen are set to graduate from the program in three weeks. 

“When our patients graduate, they feel better and many are able to resume the activities they enjoyed previously, as well as continue the exercise routine that they started here with us,” said Roemmelt.

While many insurance plans do cover the cost of cardiopulmonary rehab, some patients can face financial obstacles to this life changing service. There are some patients – like Noreen – who could benefit from a medically-supervised exercise program, but their medical condition does not meet the criteria for the insurance company to cover the cost. In other instances, patients may have high co-pay’s per visit or may not have insurance at all. 

“Florida Hospital Fish Memorial’s Jump Start program is the answer for patients facing those financial obstacles,” said Allison. “It is a reasonably priced, self-pay program for any patient who needs to initiate and establish healthy exercise habits, but may be afraid to, due to health constrains and uncertain as to how best to proceed.” 

The Jump Start Program includes 24 visits and costs $240, or $10 per visit.

Florida Hospital Fish Memorial’s Wellness Center is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) and offers a host of programs, including Inpatient Education Phase I, Outpatient Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Phase II and Maintenance Exercise Phase III. The center also provides smoking cessation, community wellness, speaking engagements and health fair presentations. To learn more or to enroll in Jump Start, contact the Florida Hospital Fish Memorial Wellness Center at (386) 917-5125.

About Florida Hospital Fish Memorial
Florida Hospital Fish Memorial is a 175-bed full-service hospital providing inpatient and outpatient services in addition to 24-hour emergency and critical care. The hospital is a member of Adventist Health System, the largest Protestant not-for-profit hospital system in the nation and works to provide exceptional, patient-focused care to the DeBary, Deltona, Orange City and Sanford communities. Florida Hospital Fish Memorial is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. 

Photo Caption:
After receiving a pacemaker, Deltona resident Peter Welch, 67, enrolled in the cardiac rehab program at Florida Hospital Fish Memorial. Here, he receives assistance from Mary Palmer, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial cardiac rehab registered nurse, while on a treadmill.