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St. Francis pulmonary rehabilitation breathes new life into patient

Author: Dayna Stroik

October 05, 2018
St. Francis pulmonary rehabilitation breathes new life into patient

"I don't know if it was divine intervention, or what have you, but I can't explain how thankful I am that they called me," recalls Dale Larson, 75, of a rescheduled appointment that likely helped save his life.

It was just a week away from a routine appointment at Park Nicollet Shakopee in June 2015, when Dale received a phone call from registration. The clinic had an opening and Dale happily moved up his appointment a few days. Something in that routine exam, however, prompted his provider to send Dale straight to St. Francis Regional Medical Center's diagnostics lab for a CT scan, which showed a deep vein thrombosis in his knee and a pulmonary embolism in his lungs. If not for the rescheduled appointment and his provider's attention to detail, Dale may not have survived, but because they were caught early he underwent necessary treatment for both life-threatening conditions at St. Francis and made a full recovery.

Then, in June 2016, Dale was rushed to the St. Francis Emergency Department with a very serious exacerbation of the lungs. After a few days in the hospital, Dale was discharged with a referral to St. Francis' pulmonary rehabilitation program.

Since his exacerbation, Dale has visited the St. Francis pulmonary rehabilitation gym two days a week. Determined to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle, Dale's appointments serve both as rehabilitation and a time to visit with nurses and providers whom he considers friends. "The people are just fabulous," he smiles.

The feeling is mutual, according to Munira Mohamed, one of the pulmonary therapists at St. Francis who works closely with Dale. "Dale jokes around with all of us. He has a special relationship with each staff member," she explains.

The program has undoubtedly made an impact on Dale's life. "I was in really bad shape after the exacerbation," he explains. "I could only walk 490 feet in six minutes. When I graduated from the pulmonary rehab program a year later, I could walk 938 feet in six minutes." Dale's functional lung capacity has increased nearly 52 percent, a drastic change that can be attributed to his hard work in the pulmonary rehab program.

"We have seen how much Dale's hard work and consistency have paid off. He is a new man compared to the man that walked into our program two years ago. We provided the education, but it's his positive mindset and determination that got him to where he is today," said Munira.

On two occasions, Dale was diagnosed with pneumonia and after both recoveries, Dale was back to his pulmonary rehabilitation routine at St. Francis. "I could go to [a community gym] through programs with my health insurance. But the fact of the matter is, St. Francis is a nice place with such nice people and equipment, and if something were to happen to me, I'm already here."

When asked how his health has improved through St. Francis' pulmonary rehabilitation program, Dale acknowledges the highs and lows. He attributes his success and improvements in his health to the maintenance program, and humbly acknowledges the help from his obvious dedication and motivation. "Yeah, I've worked hard," he smiles.

On maintaining one's health through the pulmonary rehabilitation program, Dale urges, "I would encourage anyone, because it's easy to fall out of shape."

It's his positive attitude that not only helps Dale power through his program, but it helps everyone around him, too. "The most incredible thing about Dale," says Munira, "is how he encourages new patients that come in to pulmonary rehab. I admire his can-do attitude and motivation to keep going."

More about St. Francis pulmonary rehabilitation program

Pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to help those diagnosed with lung diseases stay active and feel better. At St. Francis, our team will help you learn about your diagnosis and how to manage your condition to improve stamina and your potential for a more active lifestyle. Participants will take part in monitored exercise and breathing techniques during the 6 to 18 week program. Exercises are tailored to meet personalized needs and abilities of each patient. A physician referral is required to enroll in the Pulmonary Rehab program. There is a fee for each session, which may or may not be covered by your health insurance plan. To learn more visit click here.