SANFORD – Joining a cardiac rehabilitation program can improve health for people who have had a heart attack, heart surgery, heart failure and other heart conditions. So, to make such a program as convenient for as many people as possible, FirstHealth has nationally certified programs in Rockingham and Pinehurst. In October, FirstHealth will open a third nationally certified site in Sanford.
“Transportation and work conflicts are a major reason many people don’t or can’t follow through with cardiac rehab,” says Sanford resident Betsy Young, who will soon transition to the position of cardiac rehabilitation coordinator at FirstHealth Cardiac Rehab in Sanford. “So many of our patients come to FirstHealth in Pinehurst for care then need to travel back and forth from their homes to join the cardiac rehab program. For those who live or work in Lee County, this addition will make a big difference.”
People who attend cardiac rehab include those who have had heart attack, angina (chest discomfort), heart bypass, valve surgery, angioplasty, coronary stent, congestive heart failure (CHF) and other risk factors for heart disease.
Young will be new at the FirstHealth facility in Sanford. But, she is certainly not new to cardiac rehabilitation, to FirstHealth or to Sanford. For about 10 years, Young was director of a similar program in Lee County. After that, she served as cardiac rehab coordinator at FirstHealth Cardiac Rehab in Rockingham, where she’s been for 17 years.
“I’ve always been impressed with FirstHealth and all of its resources,” she says. “So I jumped at the chance to work in cardiac rehab at FirstHealth years ago, even though the commute for my most recent position was over an hour both ways.”
As a personal bonus for Young, FirstHealth’s new location will allow her to work just minutes from where she’s lived for 30 years: in Sanford.
“I’m excited to be working in the community I’ve made home, and where so many friends and family are,” she says.
Young has earned certifications as an exercise physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine and has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in exercise science. She is active statewide and nationally as president of the North Carolina Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Association. In this role, she has helped promote and negotiate health care policy that impacts health programs and services in area communities.
In addition to Young, the experienced cardiac rehab team at FirstHealth in Sanford will include a registered dietitian, registered nurse, physicians and medical director. With the support of a diverse range of medical professionals like these, research shows that cardiac rehab helps patients who have had a heart attack live longer. It also shows they improve their chances to avoid another heart attack.
Sanford-area residents will also be able to join a similar service, the Bridge to Wellness Program, at the new facility. It’s for both graduates of a cardiac rehabilitation program and others those who could benefit from professional guidance to learn to exercise safely with their health conditions. Participants in these programs do not need to be patients of FirstHealth physicians.
The cardiac rehab program will be based at the new FirstHealth Fitness in Sanford, which opens Oct. 1, located at 2925 Beechtree Drive off of US 15-501, near the US-1 and 15-501 interchange. For more information on the FirstHealth Cardiac Rehab program visit www.firsthealth.org/cardiacrehab.