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July 11, 2019 marked one year that Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center has been providing pulmonary rehabilitation services to patients. Located at Conemaugh East Hills, 1450 Scalp Avenue in Johnstown, the pulmonary rehabilitation staff has treated 18 patients during its first year of service, and currently has 13 new patients enrolled. A physician referral is needed.
Conemaugh’s pulmonary rehabilitation program is designed for patients who experience lung problems including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, bronchiectasis, sarcoidosis, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, interstitial lung disease, lung cancer and lung cancer surgery, lung volume reduction surgery, before and after lung transplantation, and occupational lung disease.
“Our overall goal is to increase the patient’s physical well-being and participate in activities with less shortness of breath,” said Robert Pickerill, MD, Medical Director of Pulmonary Rehabilitation. “Patients participate in a physical activity plan specifically designed for their needs. Each patient is assisted by a respiratory therapist and has experienced staff close by during their sessions to ensure everything is done is a controlled, safe environment.” Each patient’s circumstances are different, so outcomes vary by patient. A common theme among patient feedback is that they are able to do more daily activities with less shortness of breath.
Education classes are also provided to assist patients in better managing their chronic or acute condition. Sessions include information about medications, oxygen therapy, nutrition and weight management, breathing retraining, importance of exercise, strategies for managing breathing problems, and symptom assessment and knowledge for when to seek medical assistance. The program offers classes three days a week for eight to 12 weeks, depending on the patient’s need.