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Heart patient hits out at rehab block

Saturday, 5th October, 2013

By By Erica Visser

A woman who had triple bypass heart surgery in July is still waiting for vital rehabilitation because the local health service is not running it at the moment.

Mary Martin spent a week in an Adelaide hospital after her operation, where she started a cardiac rehabilitation program that proved important in her recovery.

“They tried to arrange for me to continue rehab up here, but it’s now been (eight weeks) since I had any rehab.

“I rang the hospital when I came home and I waited the two weeks, I tried again and they said another two weeks ... I gave up then because I figured the more you annoy them the less they want to help.”

Ms Martin has written to both State and Federal members with her concerns and said she had been seeing her doctor at least once a week since she returned home.

“When I told my GP I still wasn’t in rehabilitation yet he just raised his eyebrows,” she said.

“Time is critical for me at the moment.”

A spokesman for the Broken Hill Health Service explained that the cardiac rehabilitation is offered in 8-12 week blocks and a program was already underway when Ms Martin wished to access it.

The next one is due to start at the end of this month.

“The Cardio-pulmonary Rehabilitation program at the Broken Hill Health Service can be run in blocks or on a rotational basis,” the spokesman said.

“The program’s length is usually 8 to 12 weeks, with best outcomes being achieved with 12 weeks of rehab unless there is a maintenance program to follow.

“A 12 week Cardiac Rehabilitation program at the Health Service was completed on September 6.

“This program was underway when Ms Martin completed her surgery. The next program is scheduled to start towards the end of October. This may be modified to conclude just prior to Christmas.

“The Broken Hill Health Service regrets any distress Ms Martin may have experienced regarding this matter.”

Ms Martin said she was frustrated that the timing of her operation had blocked her from accessing the vital program.

“We’re entitled to the same treatment here that we can get in the cities. If I had my operation two weeks earlier than I did, I could have had the rehab.

“Surely there are other people in Broken Hill who are in the same boat as me.”

The Health Service recognised the importance of cardiac rehabilitation following a heart operation or for those with heart disease.

“The aim is to facilitate recovery from a cardiac event, prevent further cardiac events, provide psychosocial support to individuals and their family and facilitate return to work or other day-to-day and leisure activities,” the spokesman said.

“Research has recognised that psychosocial factors rather than the heart disease on its own, has an impact on disability and quality of life following a cardiac event. Overall cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation focuses on exercise, education and support.”

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