Kansas University Hospital opened a new outpatient cardiopulmonary rehabilitation unit Monday.
The 2,600-square-foot, $500,000 unit is on the fourth floor of the Center for Advanced Heart Care. KU Hospital now can offer continual care for patients who have heart attacks or heart surgeries instead of sending them elsewhere.
"Before, we shipped them all over," said Eric Larson, program manager for inpatient and outpatient cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. "Now, my entire in-patient staff works on the outpatient as well. So, it's a familiar face. The patients come in and there is an ease of transition. They have faith with the people who help them on the in-patient side, and we will do the same thing on the outpatient side."
Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation is an individualized program of monitored exercise and education. Patients are encouraged to attend three times a week for up to 12 weeks.
Larson said those who enter an outpatient rehab program have a 75 percent better survival rate than those who don't.
He said the education component is what makes KU Hospital's program unique. Each rehab session includes up to 45 minutes of exercise, followed by about 30 minutes of education.
"We do a very comprehensive education program where patients are educated about anything that might have got them to where they are at today as well as helping improve their quality of life in the future," Larson said.
KU Hospital has about 120 inpatients per month who could benefit from the new unit. It also will take referrals from other hospitals.
The unit has six staff members that include a registered dietitian, registered nurses, a respiratory nurse and an exercise specialist.
Larson was hired two years ago to help turn the hospital's seven-year desire into a reality. It is the 30th program that he has helped establish.
"This is by far the biggest we've ever done," he said.
He hopes to expand the unit's offerings to include programs and education for the general public who may be at risk for heart disease.
"They are not in play right now. We are kind of baby stepping into other realms," Larson said.
The center operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It hopes to expand those hours to include Tuesdays and Thursdays by February. The phone number is (913) 588-9529.