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A new legacy at Legacy Meridian Park

by: SUBMITTED - From left, exercise physiologist Christopher Jones, Floetta Ide, exercise physiologist Winthrop Head, physical therapist Megan Sturzinger, medical assistant Melissa Ellison. On a recent day in Tualatin, a gym is buzzing. Elliptical and treadmill machines whirl with activity, their users dripping with sweat. Upbeat music by The Beatles and Jackson 5 plays over the sound system, and its mood matches the natural light shining through a glass window pane.

It could pass as any regular neighborhood workout center, right down to the three signs near the entrance that read “Discipline,” “Success” and “Strength.” The reminders that it’s not are subtle: television-size monitors on the wall that show not CNN but the vital signs of each machine’s user; handles on the machines placed deliberately close together to provide extra support; and a space in the corner reserved for cardiac and pulmonary specialists.

This is the new cardiac rehab center at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, and shortly after its opening Director of Patient Services Carol Palmer still can’t quite believe her eyes.

“What we have now is night and day,” Palmer said. “It’s like, how did we ever manage (before)?”

The renovated and relocated cardiac center is the first of three phases in the hospital’s effort to improve its cardiac treatment, and is officially named the Lewis and Floetta Ide Cardiac Rehab Gym in honor of its biggest benefactor.

Floetta Ide is 91 years old but moves briskly, with a purpose, as she admires the gym’s machines and décor.

“This is just the beginning,” Ide said. “This is a very small part of it here, but it’s a beginning.”

Ide, a West Linn resident, has been connected with the hospital ever since she and her late husband, Lewis, adopted it for their own care years ago. To help honor Lewis’ memory after his death, Ide became the lead benefactor for the hospital’s state-of-the-art patient healing garden. After undergoing quadruple bypass surgery in 2009, Ide experienced the cardiac rehab center before its renovation — providing important perspective when she heard about this most recent project.

“The treadmills, even, were so close together,” Ide said. “You couldn’t get between them — you had to walk on them or else squeeze behind them. They didn’t have enough room. And the equipment was getting older, too.”

Palmer remembers the old facility as dark and cramped, canceling out a portion of the revitalization that should be ever-present at rehab centers.

“Our other gym was all enclosed,” Palmer said. “It was a depressing place, actually.”

With the help of both Ide and the Poznanski Family Foundation, construction of the new gym came and went without a hitch, and memories of the old room grow more distant by the day.

The newly coined Lewis and Floetta Ide Cardiac Rehab Gym is certainly a brighter and happier place, but it is the practical improvements that have staff members truly excited. The wall monitors allow staff members to roam away from the central computer desk and interact individually with patients while still keeping an eye on heart rate and other vital signs. The new machines are better suited for the needs of weaker patients and, perhaps most exciting, the addition of two classrooms provides numerous education opportunities.

“We wanted two areas where we could provide educational offerings for the community,” Palmer said. “We wanted to be able to once a month, initially, go in and offer to the community for free to come and get lectures from physicians, from dietitians, from exercise physiologists, nurses, the gamut of them.”

The lectures will be open to anyone in the community who is interested in preventative health care. As a bonus, the rooms also serve as de facto meeting places for current patients when necessary.

“Part of the exercise classes that we have there, they also have educational classes,” Palmer said. “In our old site we always had to kind of jockey for a room — we didn’t have a dedicated space that we could go to.”

Both Ide and Palmer are careful to mention that this is only the first phase of a concerted effort to improve cardiac care at Legacy Meridian Park. The second stage will be the construction of an eight-bed chest pain center inside the hospital, to be completed by September, which will be geared toward the care of lower-risk patients.

“The chest pain center will be for patients who come in with chest pain but are not having a heart attack,” Palmer said. “But yet we know they have some type of cardiac problem. ... Currently we evaluate them and discharge them, so this will allow us to take it a step further and hopefully give them a diagnosis before they leave the emergency department.”

Ide will help fund that, too, and though she was greatly impressed by the new gym, she knows there is much more to look forward to in the near future.

“This,” she said, “is just the tip of the iceberg.”



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