Patty Breen

A Shared Experience
Patty Breen SGHS Patient Story

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 cardiac rehabilitation.

“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.