Cardiac Program Helps Patient Back on her Feet

Franc Etta Balentine walks on the treadmill during one of her therapy sessions at Cardiac Rehab inside the WRMC Medical Complex Newport, with the assistance of Tim Edwards, Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist.

(Newport, Ark.) - As a home health caregiver, Franc Etta Balentine of Newport spends much of her time taking care of others. In December 2016, it was Franc Etta who needed care after she developed shortness of breath at home.

“At first I thought maybe I was getting pneumonia,” said Franc Etta. “But when it got harder and harder to breathe, I knew I needed to see my doctor.”

With an extensive family history of heart disease, Franc Etta feared the worst. The emergency room physician confirmed her fear; she had experienced a heart attack. She spent many days in the hospital, and had a stent placed to improve the blood flow to her heart; however, that was just the beginning of her healing journey.

Franc Etta was very weak. She could barely walk, and she had difficulty lifting items even as small as a set of car keys.

“That first week at home was sad. I was used to getting up and going, and I couldn’t do that anymore. I didn’t know if I would be like that for the rest of my life, but I sure didn’t want to be,” Franc Etta recalls.

Not knowing if she would ever work again, and barely being able to walk, Franc Etta began Cardiac Rehabilitation, or Cardiac Rehab, at the recommendation of her hospital discharge nurse.

Cardiac Rehab is a program of structured exercise and education for patients with heart disease. Benefits of the program include exercise to improve endurance, and education for patients and their family members on ways to control heart disease. The three-phase program brings healthcare professionals together to help patients improve their quality of life.

Cardiac Rehab at the WRMC Medical Complex Newport opened just a couple of weeks before Franc Etta’s heart attack. “I read that White River Medical Center opened a Cardiac Rehab in Newport, right down the street from me, so I asked to go there,” said Franc Etta.

WRMC Medial Complex Newport Cardiac Rehab staff Brandie Sutterfield, RN, and Tim Edwards, Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist, work closely with patients such as Franc Etta to help them understand and achieve their health goals.

“After a month in Cardiac Rehab, I was strong enough to go back to work,” said Franc Etta. “I was excited! I didn’t know if that would be possible for me to go back to work at all, and it happened in just a month.”

Franc Etta admits that travelling any further than Newport multiple days a week would have been challenging for her physically and financially. “I’m glad we have this program right here in Newport,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the Cardiac Rehab team here, I don’t think I would have been able to go back to the way I was before my heart attack.”

The Cardiac Rehab program at the WRMC Medical Complex Newport recently expanded to offer a Pulmonary Rehab program for patients with lung disease. Patients in the Pulmonary Rehab program also receive structured exercise and education to improve their quality of life.

Anyone diagnosed with heart or lung disease is eligible for Cardiac or Pulmonary Rehab. Patients must speak with their primary care physician or specialist about a referral to the program. For more information about Cardiac or Pulmonary Rehab at Newport, call (870) 512-2570.

The WRMC Medical Complex in Newport is located at 2200 Malcolm Ave, inside the old Kroger building. The facility includes an After Hours Clinic; Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation; clinic space for visiting specialists in Cardiology, OB/GYN, Oncology, Orthopaedics, Urology, and Wound Care; Imaging-MRI and X-Ray; laboratory; and the Pain Management Clinic. Also in the location is the Newport Diagnostic Clinic. Dr. Randall Hunt and Dr. Nicole Lawson provide primary care to patients Monday thru Thursday. For more information about the services offered at the WRMC Medical Complex Newport, visit WhiteRiverHealthSystem.com.

Photo Caption: Franc Etta Balentine walks on the treadmill during one of her therapy sessions at Cardiac Rehab inside the WRMC Medical Complex Newport, with the assistance of Tim Edwards, Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist. 

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