For people living with heart trouble, maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle can seem like walking a tightrope. There are so many risk factors to consider and lifestyle choices to make that it can all seem a little overwhelming.
Jackson County residents with heart disease are fortunate to have a local support group to help them make sense of a variety of information and connect with others that are facing similar struggles, the Heart to Heart Cardiac Support Group. Both men and women of any age who have had a heart attack, bypass surgery, angina or other heart trouble are welcome to attend.
In Carbondale the group is co-sponsored by the Jackson County Healthy Communities Coalition and Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.
Bi-monthly meetings take place either at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital or another Jackson County site. Each program includes a speaker from the local health care field, including nurses, dieticians and physicians, presenting information on a subject closely related to heart health. Presentations may include information on stress, women and heart disease, exercise, healthy eating habits and many other health factors.
The idea for this type of support group came about when Prairie Heart Institute - Carbondale heart surgeon Joseph Rubelowsky, MD, SIU Physicians and Surgeons, division of cardio thoracic surgery, SIU School of Medicine, approached Diane Fulbright, MSN, RN, BC, system manager, cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation at Southern Illinois Healthcare. He expressed the need for a local group to discuss the continuing health concerns of patients having heart trouble. In addition to being an employee of SIH, Fulbright is also a member of the coalition and was already working on the idea as one of the coalition’s goals.
With input from members of the coalition, as well as George Maroney, administrator, Memorial Hospital of Carbondale and Steve Pautler, FACHE, administrator, St. Joseph Memorial Hospital, it was decided to combine the Jackson County’s resources into one localized support group. On learning of the new support group, the other resident Prairie Heart Institute - Carbondale cardiac surgeon, Kenneth Saum, MD, SIU Physicians and Surgeons, also offered his support.
“We’re very pleased to have the support of the hospital administrators, the cardiologists and the cardiac surgeons for this group,” Fulbright said. She also notes that participants are encouraged to bring a family member or significant other with them to each meeting. “It is important for a patient to have a support system in place that understands the significance of maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle and can identify warning signals if other emergency situations should occur,” she said.
The program has been very successful in Jackson County, which prompted organizers with the Williamson County Healthy Communities Coalition to start a Heart to Heart group in Williamson County as well. The group meets at Herrin Hospital.
Anyone interested in the Heart to Heart Cardiac Support Group in Jackson or Williamson counties is encouraged to attend. For more information, contact Diane Fulbright at 942-2171 ext. 35362.