Patricia “Patty” Breen of St. Simons Island, Ga., isn’t
just a volunteer for the Southeast Georgia Health System Cardiopulmonary
Rehabilitation program on the Brunswick Campus, she is also a patient.
And it was her patient experience that led to volunteering so she could
“spend time helping people.”
Mrs. Breen began attending the cardiac rehabilitation before her first
heart surgery in March 2009. Because of a family history of heart disease,
her cardiologist, Mitchell T. Jones, M.D., recommended she build up her
strength before surgery to assist in her post-surgical recovery. After
completing her medically prescribed phase II outpatient rehabilitation
(phase I is for inpatients), she continued to attend as part of the optional
phase III maintenance program.
Despite her commitment to regular exercise, Mrs. Breen said she felt tired
all the time in the months leading up to her second heart surgery in September
2014. This time she underwent a quadruple bypass, after which she resumed
“This program is so important to me,” notes Mrs. Breen. “You
are scared after surgery and afraid to do anything. The cardiopulmonary
staff are wonderful and provide so much support, not only day-to-day but
with the classes that are part of phase II. You also make friends and
have a shared experience with other patients.”
As a volunteer, Mrs. Breen sees new patients when they begin cardiac rehabilitation.
She knows how they feel, and talks to them about how important it is to
keep coming. Walking the talk, she continues to work out three times a
week, and walks at home on in-between days. The new Fitbit she received
for Christmas helps her stay on target with daily steps and her heart
rate, and lets her know when it’s time to stop and relax.