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FirstHealth Pulmonary Rehab Program Earns National Certification

| Date Posted: 10/7/2014

 Jill Brown, RCP

SOUTHERN PINES – Patients dealing with the breath-stealing effects of chronic lung disease come to FirstHealth Pulmonary Rehabilitation at FirstHealth Fitness-Southern Pines for a reason: to find help in improving their quality of life.

That's what they get in the program that has just been certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR).

The three-year certification – the first for a FirstHealth Pulmonary Rehab program – recognizes the program’s commitment to enhanced standards of care that help patients achieve their quality of life goals.

“This certification is a real testament to the quality of our pulmonary rehabilitation program,” says Wes Cowell, PharmD, administrative director of FirstHealth Pharmacy and Pulmonary Care. “When I visit coordinator Jill Brown and her team, I am routinely reminded by their patients of what an outstanding service they provide here in our community and of how much a difference it really makes in people’s lives.”

The FirstHealth program is based on a progressive, medically managed exercise regimen that is complemented by patient and family education and emotional support. Participants are physician-referred because of a chronic lung disease such as COPD or asthma that limits their activity and affects their quality of life.

The program, which is covered by most insurance, has even served patients trying to improve their health and build up their stamina in anticipation of a lung transplant.

“It’s not our goal to ‘fix’ the lung disease,” says Brown. “It’s our goal to build up strength, endurance and stamina – in other words, to build up energy. Patients learn to manage their condition so they feel so much better.”

According to Brown, national certification has been a long-time goal for the program’s leadership and staff and involved the documentation of a year’s worth of patient programming, outcomes and satisfaction that showed how each patient had improved or was working toward improvement.

In addition to Brown, who is a respiratory care practitioner (RCP), the Pulmonary Rehab staff consists of registered respiratory therapist Alyson Campbell, RRT; exercise physiologist Chris Pevia; and part-time nurses Stephanie Mann, R.N., and Angie Hounsell, R.N.

The medical director is Joe Gibbons, D.O., a member of the Hospitalist Service staff at Moore Regional Hospital and a board certified specialist in internal medicine.

The program originated at FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst more than a decade ago, but was relocated to Southern Pines after outgrowing the original space. At any one time, it can currently accommodate up to 20 patients who meet for monitored exercise sessions three times each week.

“There’s a huge range of lung diseases that qualify for the program,” says Brown, “and we certainly see them all. Patients get skilled monitoring while they are here.”

For more information on FirstHealth Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Southern Pines, call (910) 692-9103 or visit

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