In the News

AARC Represented at Opening of New Center

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January 8, 2010

On Jan. 8, 2010, St. Mary’s Hospital celebrated the grand opening of a new pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation center named after Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, a national patient advocate for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's COPD Learn More Breathe Better® Campaign.  Former ABC News “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel had the idea for the gift and donated the funds to open the center in honor of his wife, Grace Anne.  

Miriam O’Day, Director of Legislative Affairs, represented AARC at the opening.

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Grace Anne Dorney Koppel spoke about her battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) at the grand opening of The Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Md., on Jan. 8, 2010. Through her own pulmonary rehabilitation she got her life back.  Koppel is a national patient advocate for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s COPD Learn More Breathe BetterÒCampaign of the National Institutes of Health, a Maryland attorney and business manager to husband, newsman Ted Koppel.

“It has long been my dream that everybody would have access to pulmonary rehabilitation,” said Grace Anne.  In 2001, she was diagnosed with a very severe case of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and given a few years to live.  COPD is a group of lung diseases including emphysema, refractory asthma, chronic bronchitis and bronchiectasis.  Instead of taking the prognosis as a death sentence, Grace Anne decided to learn how to better live with the incurable pulmonary disease. 

“It’s important to remember it isn’t curable, but it’s treatable,” said Grace Anne.  She began pulmonary rehabilitation and through hard work and dedication increased her lung capacity from 26 percent to almost 70 percent.  She went from complete exhaustion simply standing on a moving walkway to now walking two to three miles on a treadmill six to seven days a week.  Since 2007, she has shared her experiences on a national platform and is a testament to not letting her health slow her down.

“I got my life back as a result of pulmonary rehabilitation,” she said.

The Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at St. Mary’s Hospital provides pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation services designed to limit the effects of illness, prevent future recurrences or medical complications, and maximize the ability to participate in daily tasks.  Rehabilitation may help individuals improve energy for tasks such as dressing and bathing, walking to the mailbox, shopping at the local store, or dining out with friends and family.  The focus is on rebuilding a patient’s strength and endurance to safely resume life’s demands, whether that is returning to work or his or her favorite hobby.

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From left, newsman Ted Koppel, St. Mary’s Hospital President Christine R. Wray and Grace Anne Dorney Koppel celebrate the opening of The Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center at St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Md., on Jan. 8, 2010.

Pulmonary and cardiac diseases are conditions that affect the lungs and heart.  Pulmonary rehabilitation services may be beneficial to individuals with emphysema, chronic bronchitis, COPD, asthma or other lung conditions. Cardiac rehabilitation services may benefit those who have experienced a recent heart attack or cardiac surgery, as well as other heart-related health problems.

“Data show that pulmonary rehabilitation improves exercise ability and quality of life for many with lung diseases like COPD.  Having access to such a program means greater opportunity for keeping members of the community with lung diseases active and involved,” said James Kiley, PhD, director, Division of Lung Diseases, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Participants in the hospital’s program will attend exercise and health education sessions three times a week for approximately 12 weeks in a group format.  During the sessions, clients are monitored for responses to exercise using telemetry monitors, pulse oximeters and other medical assessment equipment by trained professionals.      

A physician’s order is required before beginning pulmonary or cardiac rehabilitation and most insurances and Medicare cover the services.  The Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center’s appointment line can be reached at 240-434-7143.