Doctors Hospital Provides Long-Term Cardiac Care

Exercise physiologist Melissa Sherrod and department supervisor Dennis Mink monitor Matt Cooper as he runs on the treadmill at the Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake Cardiac Rehabilitation Facility. — Courtesy Photo

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Matt Cooper, a 48-year-old Mesquite resident, spends his mornings running miles before heading to work. Cooper isn’t training for a marathon — he’s recovering from a heart attack.

Cooper enrolled in a cardiac maintenance program at Doctors Hospital at White Rock Lake, a phase of the hospital’s cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation program. After suffering a heart attack during a business trip last April, Cooper had to undergo emergency surgery in California to have a stent inserted into his heart.

It served as a wake-up call to start eating better and exercising to continue living his life. After returning to Texas to recover, Cooper searched for a rehabilitation program that would help heal his heart and improve his health.

“I went to Doctors Hospital because they take care of you as long as you want,” Cooper said. “If I want to live a long time, this is where I want to be.”

Doctors Hospital offers a three-phase rehabilitation program for patients who have suffered stable angina, myocardial infarction, bypass surgery, valve replacements, transplants, and percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) stent placements, like Cooper.

Phase one includes inpatient counseling to diagnose and treat cardiac and pulmonary issues. Phase two assists patients in completing a 12-week monitored recovery program. Phase three is a long-term maintenance program that allows patients to continue receiving health education, counseling on nutrition, exercise, medication, and emotional support from the hospital staff.

“We spend a lot of time building a rapport and establishing trust with the patient,” said Dennis Mink, supervisor of Doctors Hospital’s cardio-pulmonary department. “We want to have a good relationship with a patient so instead of creating increased anxiety, every patient is relieved to be moving through the program and on to better health.”

Mink said the program places a high emphasis on education to ensure the patients build habits that will help them stay healthy.

“If the necessary lifestyle changes are not made, we will see these patients again when they are admitted to the hospital. We want to avoid that,” he said.

Cooper completed the second phase of the rehabilitation program and lost about 30 pounds. He is continuing with the maintenance program and visits Doctors Hospital three times a week to exercise and receive counseling from Mink and other staff members. To date, he has lost almost 60 pounds and brought his blood pressure down to normal levels.

The Doctors Hospital program is not only unique for being certified by The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, but Cooper said the staff members and patients in the program are almost like “The Breakfast Club” because everyone is so friendly.

He said the environment is very supportive, but also reassuring because patients are still being supervised by a knowledgeable staff, a benefit that would not be available at a normal gym or at home.

“They all watch us like hawks,” he said. “They make sure we’re on track.”

Cooper said he has also developed a lot of heart-healthy recipes with the staff’s guidance and will continue everything he can to avoid future heart problems.

“I’m definitely going to continue at Doctors Hospital for as long as I can,” he said. “I’m sticking around.”

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