Pulmonary rehab: SSCH launches new services for patients with chronic lung disease


Chronic pulmonary diseases can have a crippling effect on patients.

That’s something South Sunflower County Hospital is on a mission to prevent.

In October of last year, SSCH was able to launch a new line of pulmonary rehabilitation services through the hospital, which is already having positive effects on locals with moderate to severe lung ailments.

“Whereas Chronic Lung Disease is not curable, pulmonary rehab helps teach the patient how to live with the disease,” said SSCH COO and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Director Eligah Johnson. “We provide education, based upon their pulmonary disease status.”

Johnson said some of the main issues with patients revolves around them not properly taking their medications.

Other times, it simply has to do with not exercising their muscles enough.

SSCH’s pulmonary rehabilitation program addresses both of those issues and more.

“We work with them on taking medications properly,” Johnson said. “We do exercises to strengthen those muscles that help them with everyday activities.”

Johnson said many patients come in unable to perform basic household tasks throughout the day.

“We have one particular patient that when he came in, he could not even take a shower, without stopping mid-shower to rest,” Johnson said. “He could not walk outside to feed his dogs and come back without having to stop a couple of times to rest. Now he can go through the whole processes without having to stop.”

Johnson said most of that success came from education on proper breathing.

He said that many COPD patients tend to breathe rapidly, without deep breaths, not getting the full benefit of the breath. 

“If you’re not breathing properly (by breathing rapidly), it’s tiring you out, because it’s not giving the lungs time or (breathing) deep enough to have the oxygen time to cross over from the lungs and get into the blood,” he said.

Currently, the pulmonary rehabilitation services share space in the physical therapy wing of the hospital.

Johnson said he hopes pulmonary rehab will one day have a wing of its own, but until then, he is spreading the word to local patients with lung disease that the services are provided in Indianola.

With these services, he said, patients are enjoying a higher quality of life, with better medical outcomes, and there’s a benefit to the hospital, as this has cut down on emergency room visits for many of his patients.

“It keeps the patients out of the hospital, because now they know how to take their medicines right, now they know how to breathe, and they can do daily activities without getting short of breath,” he said.

He said the most important thing, however, is the patients’ quality of life.

“That patient can now live with that disease and work though it instead of the disease encapsulating them and making them homebound,” Johnson said. “Instead of them being in the house all the time, they can go for a walk. They will take their medications before they go outside to prepare their lungs for a walk.”


They are the perfect definition of a work in progress.

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