When Susan Macias, 64, of Valley Springs, began taking pulmonary rehabilitation classes at Mark Twain Medical Center – classes referred to her by her doctor after she was treated for cancer – she began to see and feel the difference in her life almost immediately.

After just a few sessions she felt stronger. She felt happier. She felt supported. And she felt healthier.

Regional hospitals offer health and wellness classes

Susan Mecias, a former cancer patient referred to the pulmonary rehabilitation program at Mark Twain Medical Center by her primary care doctor, discusses her exercise routine with Respiratory Therapist Steve White.

“It’s a huge improvement,” Macias said. “(I’ve gone) from having difficulty walking across the parking lot to doing an hour’s worth of exercise.”

Respiratory Therapist Steve White, the Mark Twain Medical Center employee who runs pulmonary rehabilitation classes, said that Mecias’ positive experience is much like that of others who attend the program.

The pulmonary rehabilitation classes at Mark Twain Medical Center are available to patients with conditions that impact their ability to breathe, such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, who are referred by their primary care physicians. Classes take place twice a week and consist of an hour of cardiovascular exercise in a controlled environment where the patients’ blood pressure and oxygen levels are monitored by an attending nurse or physician followed by health education lectures about optimizing medication or breathing exercises.

White says patients can feel the difference in weeks, sometimes within a couple of days.

“Within a couple of weeks I can see a dramatic difference,” White said. “And they can, too.”

White said that most if not all the pulmonary rehabilitation patients are former smokers.

The heart center also offers a cardiac rehabilitation program to those with a history of heart disease, those who have undergone open-heart surgery or those who have suffered heart attacks. As with the pulmonary rehabilitation classes, cardiac rehabilitation patients are referred to the program by their primary care physicians. Cardiac rehabilitation classes take place three times a week.

Cardiac rehabilitation involves monitoring the heart rate as well as blood pressure and patients in the program receive education about dieting and living a healthy lifestyle.

The pulmonary rehabilitation classes are one of a number of offerings in health and wellness education that are available for those hoping to pursue a healthier, more active lifestyle in the Mother Lode.

Mark Twain Medical Center Public Information Officer Nicki Stevens said that in addition to the rehabilitation classes, Mark Twain also hosts workshops on diabetes self-management. That workshop covers topics such as making healthy food choices, preventing low blood sugar, skin and foot care and medication management.

Sutter Amador Hospital in Jackson offers a group of classes geared toward expecting mothers and fathers throughout the year. The Great Beginnings series includes Boot Camp for New Dads and Maternal Connections, both one-evening interactive classes that focus on discussions about adjusting to new parenthood. Surviving the First Month, also on offer at Sutter Amador, offers information about newborn appearances and behaviors, as well as comforting skills and how to cope with a lack of sleep.

The Great Beginnings series of classes is free for parents who plan to deliver at Sutter Amador.

Debbie Lucus, the Sutter Medical Foundation patient education organizer at Sutter Amador, said that Sutter Amador also offers other classes, including a 12-week weight loss program called Sutter Options for Success that focuses on lifestyle behavioral changes, diet and exercise to help attendees meet their target weights.

Regional hospitals offer health and wellness classes

Arthur Mortan of West Point discusses his exercise routine with Respiratory Therapist Steve White.

Lucus said that often people attend the weight loss program begrudgingly at the behest of a friend or family member, but finish the class enjoying it.

“So many people are resistant to coming to a class,” Lucus said. “But once they’re there they really love it.”

Lucus said that other classes on offer at Sutter Amador include Heart Smart, which teaches attendees about how to lower their cholesterol levels without medication, Low Sodium Living, and a pre-diabetes class.

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