published Sunday, February 20th, 2011

SkyRidge opens heart center

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    Photo by Randall Higgins SkyRidge Medical Center in Cleveland, Tenn., held an open house Saturday for its new Heart and Vascular Center. The new facility offers rehabilitation programs, testing and screening and community rooms for community health education classes.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- SkyRidge Medical Center introduced its Heart and Vascular Center to the Cleveland area Saturday.

The new outpatient center, in the former emergency room area on the hospital's main campus, offers outpatient cardiovascular diagnostic tests, screenings, rehabilitation services and classrooms for community heart health education programs.

Later this year, the Heart and Vascular Center will open a pulmonary rehabilitation center for patients with lung disorders.

The Saturday open house included free heart health screenings, tours and two classes, plus a chance to meet staff and some outpatients already using the hospital's rehabilitation services.

Harold Griffin and Richard Covrea, both cardio rehabilitation outpatients, greeted visitors and talked about their own experiences.

"This is such a great outfit; I've been with them two years," Griffin said. Covrea has been in the program three years.

Registered nurse Donna Thomas, the cardio rehabilitation coordinator, said the program isn't new -- some outpatients have been taking part since the 1980s. But now rehabilitation has been consolidated in the new area with other heart-related services.

"There are two programs," she said. "One of them is for patients who have recently had a cardiac event. There is a program anyone can join if they have their doctor's clearance. Some people will choose to continue coming here. We also have spouses to join with their husbands or wives who have had surgery or a heart attack. They become support for each other."

SkyRidge official Wanda Perry said the renovated space is a "one-stop area for our heart and vascular patients."

"Another component is for people coming in for diagnostic testing," Perry said. "And we have non-invasive testing areas where you can have a vascular ultrasound, any kind of non-invasive procedures."

A conference center will offer prevention classes, heart-healthy cooking classes and more.

"It's education, treatment and rehab, all in one area," Thomas said.

The center also brings the new LifeNet service to the hospital and Bradley County Emergency Medical Service. It allows the emergency room to receive patient data while an ambulance is on the way to the hospital.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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