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At Mayo Fairmont: Cardiac rehab unit expands

GETTING IN A WORKOUT — Dennis Gilliam, left, Donna McMurtry, center, and Kevin Buchan arrange exercise equipment in the new cardiac rehabilitation area at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont.

FAIRMONT — A new cardiac rehabilitation unit at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont opened this week, courtesy of a $250,000 grant from the Fairmont Community Hospital Foundation.

The new space was the final phase of remodeling for the former Lutz Wing Nursing Home in the hospital’s east wing, which also includes the new Lutz Cancer Center, which opened in August.

The relocation marks significant upgrades to the cardiac rehab program. Its previous site had been “borrowed” from the hospital cafeteria with only a folding door separating the 343-square foot room from the dining area. At 1,771 square feet, the new venue is spacious enough to hold five existing pieces of exercise equipment, plus three new ones, as well as a sector for admissions, two changing rooms, bathroom, lockers, a treatment room and small waiting room.

And an office, a feature greatly appreciated by Donna McMurtry, a registered nurse and “department of one” that has supervised Mayo’s cardiac rehab program for many years.

“Now we’ll have a space for privacy when doing admissions or discussing care plans,” she said. “Not everybody wants to talk about their heart disease. Some people are private.”

When work on the new rehab space began in early November, McMurtry curtailed her excitement about the project, limiting herself to just two visits per week to peek at the progress.

“I wanted to come down every day,” she said.

McMurtry is confident the expanded area and new machines will do even more to benefit area cardiac rehab patients. She estimates there are about 45 patient sessions per week, or well over 2,000 per year. Because recovery is similar, cardiac rehab also handles respiratory and pulmonary care patients.

McMurtry also can see beyond the current benefits created by the remodeled space.

“I anticipate being able to grow the program now that we have the space,” she said, mentioning the potential to develop additional specialized exercise programs.

Mayo leadership expressed gratitude for the gift from the foundation.

“We are so fortunate to have received funding from the Fairmont Community Hospital Foundation to support our cardiac rehab department,” said Amy Long, administrator of Fairmont Mayo. “The new space truly is centered around patients and allows for our better patient comfort and privacy.”

A public open house to unveil the new rehab area is being planned for February to coincide with American Heart Month.

The donation for the cardiac rehab project is the latest the Fairmont Community Hospital Foundation has provided since its inception in 1989. All monies are earmarked for projects or equipment that will benefit patient care and comfort.

“This was one of our larger gifts,” said Julie Elliott, foundation president.

Last year, the foundation contributed more than $125,000 to the Mayo campus in Fairmont, funds that were used for a blood and fluid warming system for the emergency department, newborn bassinets, orthopedic equipment and equipment to establish the first Dry Eye Clinic in Mayo’s Midwestern region. The only similar clinic is in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Gifts to the non-profit Foundation come from various sources, including an annual appeal, according to Dr. Cherlynn Brumbaugh, foundation vice president.

“We have those people that give every year,” she said. “The foundation also regularly receives donations through memorials, but it’s the big gifts that really boost us.”

“Those are from bequests, from wills and estates,” Elliott said. “Anything that is donated to the foundation stays here in Fairmont. When we get a large donation, we can add to our endowment or we can set some aside for more short-term usage.”

This is what enabled the foundation to donate a larger amount this year, with special recognition from a bequest in memory of Ruth Draut, a former Martin County public health nurse who died in July 2018.

The foundation was established 30 years ago, but formally separated from the Mayo Foundation in 2011 to ensure that all of the local donations would be used to fund local projects. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $8 million, with more than 1,000 individuals and groups contributing.

Brumbaugh noted that the names of those donors are displayed on a “Wall of Honor” between the hospital lobby and the Lutz Cancer Center/Cardiac Rehab Wing. The donors are recognized each year at the foundation’s annual meeting in April.

More information on the foundation can be found on its website, www.fchfoundation.com or on its Facebook page, Fairmont Community Hospital Foundation.

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