UnityPoint Health celebrates Rehab Patients of the Year

UnityPoint Health recently celebrated its 2023 Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) Patients of the Year to recognize heart event survivors. Shown here, from left, are: Dr. Bouyella Reddy, cardiologist, Cardiovascular Medicine; Kathy Pulley, director of Cardiology Services, UnityPoint Health – Trinity; Ron Schroeder; Tommi Crampton; Joe Gillman; and Barb Weber, chief operating officer, UnityPoint Health – Trinity. CREDIT UNITYPOINT HEALTH

UnityPoint Health recently celebrated its 2023 Pritikin Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) Patients of the Year to recognize heart event survivors.

This is the third annual award celebration to recognize individuals for their amazing progress in rehabilitation and healthy heart habits after suffering a heart event.

UnityPoint Health honored these patients for their hard work, determination and commitment to heart health:

  • Joe Gillman from Rock Island had open heart surgery in May 2023 to replace two valves in his heart due to bacterial endocarditis. After surgery, Mr. Gillman’s cardiologist recommended the Pritikin program at Trinity Heart Center in Rock Island. Part of the program involves exercise three days a week. He started off at 15 minutes on the elliptical and soon progressed to 45 minutes. He was grateful for the support and guidance from the cardiac rehab experts who monitored him every step of the way. “I look forward to exercising, I don’t see it as a chore. I’m also confident enough to go to a gym now because of what I learned from the cardiac rehab experts at Trinity Heart Center,” Mr. Gillman said in a news release. Before open heart surgery, he admits he wasn’t making the best choices when it came to his nutrition. But after going through Pritikin, he’s become more mindful of the foods he puts in his body and is more conscious about reading nutritional labels. He was even surprised when he started incorporating tofu in his diet, something he never thought he would eat. Mr. Gillman now is embracing his new lifestyle, saying he wants to be an inspiration for his wife, children and grandchildren.
  • Tommi Crampton from Milan has battled heart disease since 2005. In June 2023, she had triple bypass surgery and five stents inserted in her heart. While in recovery in the hospital, her cardiologist told her about the Pritikin program, and she enrolled shortly after. Asked what her major takeaway was from the program, Ms. Crampton said “knowledge is power.” She enjoyed Pritikin because it touched on the whole body – from the exercise to the cooking classes and the workshops on how to foster a healthy mindset. “I thought I knew quite a bit about nutrition, but Pritikin opened my eyes about salt and sugar in foods and how to read nutritional labels. I learned that eating a heart-healthy diet doesn’t have to be bland, I can tailor my meals to fit my taste. I still reference back to cookbooks that they give you and even passed along recipes to my children.”
  • Ron Schroeder from Bettendorf suffered his third heart attack in August 2023. He was referred to the Pritikin program at Trinity Heart Center by his cardiologist. He said he was immediately impressed with the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in the cardiac rehab gym. “The cardiac rehab team at Trinity Heart Center was amazing. They’re courteous, helpful, knowledgeable and always willing to help,” he said. “While you’re exercising, they monitor you the entire time to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time while staying safe.” A key takeaway for Mr. Schroeder was the information he learned from the cooking schools and nutritional workshops that are part of the Pritikin program. He has lost 20 pounds since starting Pritikin and says the program has helped him keep the weight off.

Trinity Heart Center was the first hospital in the area to offer the Pritikin program and one of the first 20 programs in the country to implement Pritikin. Its experts use the program to take a proactive approach to prevention and treatment of heart disease. It teaches participants how to foster an overall healthy lifestyle through heart-healthy diet, regular exercise and a healthy mindset. 

Sessions primarily focus on exercise, but also offer participants resources and education to carry out a healthy lifestyle including cooking schools and live nutritional workshops in the Cardiac Nutrition Center, as well as sessions on healthy mindset. 

Since 2018, Trinity Heart Center has served more than 1,800 people through the Pritikin program.

“The journey through cardiac rehab is a testament to the unwavering spirit of those who refuse to let heart disease define them. Graduation is not just a milestone; it’s a declaration of their commitment to reclaiming their lives,” said Kathy Pulley, director of cardiology services at UnityPoint Health – Trinity Heart Center. “The people that take part in Pritikin are seeing amazing, life-changing results as they work toward a more heart-healthy life, and we’re honored that they trust us with their care.”

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