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Larry Fuller's Story

Cardiac rehabilitation program puts Larry Fuller on track for a healthy heart

Larry Fuller calls his mild heart attack a wake- up call. Thanks to the jump start he got from going through cardiac rehabilitation at Orange Park Medical Center, he exercises regularly now.  In between writing poetry, painting, playing the harmonica and making knives, the 75 year-old retiree spends 20 minutes a day riding his stationary bike and working out for 5 minutes on his elliptical machine.

If Orange Park Medical Center (OPMC) hadn’t started its own cardiac rehabilitation program as part of its expanded heart care services, Larry may not have been as motivated to complete cardiac rehabilitation.

Larry and his wife, Lorraine, spent Thanksgiving 2010 with their son in Orlando.  That weekend Larry experienced some chest pain, which he attributed to his hiatal hernia. He took some aspirin, and the pain went away.  Late on the evening the couple returned to their Orange Park home, Larry had pain on the left side of his chest. He took some more aspirin, but this time told Lorraine that he thought it might be his heart. Lorraine drove him to the Emergency Room at OPMC.  Cardiac enzyme testing showed that Larry had in fact had a mild heart attack, and Larry was admitted to the hospital.

Larry’s cardiologist wanted to do a heart catheterization and place a stent in one of Larry’s coronary arteries, which had partial blockage.  Lorraine and her son wanted to transfer Larry to a hospital that had an open heart program just in case an emergency happened during the procedure. At that time OPMC ‘s open heart surgery program was a few weeks away from opening, and if a cardiac emergency did happen during Larry’s heart catheterization, he would be rushed to Memorial Hospital.  “I had been observing what was going on around me, and I was getting excellent care,” Larry says. “So I said, ‘I’m going to overrule you guys. These people are really concerned with my health, and I’m staying right here in this hospital.’”

Dr. Thomas Wolford performed the heart catheterization and stent placement without any problem. Thirty minutes later, Larry was in his hospital room eating lunch, and the next morning he went home.

At Larry’s follow up visit, Dr. Wolford strongly recommended Larry go through a program for cardiac rehabilitative exercise and education. Larry started a program at another hospital, but the long drive three times a week was enough to make Larry want to quit. By then OPMC’s cardiac rehabilitation program was up and running. After meeting with Cindy Hess, the Cardiac Rehabilitation Clinical Educator, who runs OPMC’s program, it didn’t take any convincing for Larry to switch.

“Cindy was wonderful. She is a really great person, and always looking out for your health,” Larry says. This time Lorraine had no reservations.  Larry has diabetes, and Lorraine was very impressed that in addition to constantly monitoring her husband’s heart, Cindy also monitored Larry’s blood sugar.  “Cindy acted like Larry was the only patient that she had,” Lorraine says. “She was very attentive, and she monitored him very closely.”

Today, Lorraine and Larry are both pleased he got the care he got at OPMC.  Now Larry has a certificate to show that he graduated from the 12-week cardiac rehabilitation program, and he has the lifestyle to match. He says he feels much better than he has in a long while, he’s lost some weight and he’s eating better too, all of which he attributes to OPMC’s cardiac rehabilitation program.