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New program aims to improve quality of life for lung disease patients

RIVER FALLS, Wis. 10/15/2014
Kelly Ripplinger (respiratory therapist), Shari Durch (exercise physiologist) and Dr. Benjamin Morgan (medical director)

Kelly Ripplinger (respiratory therapist), Shari Durch (exercise physiologist) and Dr. Benjamin Morgan (medical director)

A new program to help patients with chronic lung diseases receive care close to home launches this fall.

River Falls Area Hospital, part of Allina Health, has developed a new, eight-week pulmonary rehabilitation program.

About 5 percent of the population in Wisconsin is affected by COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and nationally, about 33 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic lung disease.

The program at River Falls is designed to help patients live better with their lung conditions by helping them understand their lung disease, how to manage it and how to reduce their symptoms. Patients also learn how to exercise and participate in activities with less shortness of breath.

"Chronic lung disease affects patients' daily living," said Shari Durch, exercise physiologist at River Falls Area Hospital. "Pulmonary rehab can improve the patient's ability to perform daily activities and learn how to manage their disease."

People enrolling in the program, which starts in late October, will meet twice a week for eight weeks in two-hour sessions which are split between educational topics and supervised, monitored exercise.

Durch will coordinate the exercise portion of the sessions, while Kelly Ripplinger, registered respiratory therapist, will cover educational topics ranging from medication management and breathing retraining to energy conservation and disease-related anxiety and depression.

"The needs of this population were previously not being met locally," said Ripplinger. "With this new program, patients can have their needs met close to home while keeping their primary care physician."

The program will be overseen by medical director Dr. Ben Morgan, who is board certified in internal medicine and nephrology and practices at Vibrant Health Family Clinics in River Falls, Wis.

Qualifying patients include those with:

  • COPD
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Lung cancer/lung cancer surgery
  • Other qualifying lung diseases

Potential benefits to patients enrolling in the program include a better knowledge of their condition, management of their symptoms, improved function in day-today activities, coping strategies for anxiety and depression related to their disease, reduction in hospital days and nutrition counseling.

For more information, call the Pulmonary Rehabilitation team at 715-307-6050.

About River Falls Area Hospital

River Falls Area Hospital, part of Allina Health, is a not-for-profit regional medical center committed to providing quality, comprehensive care to patients in western Wisconsin - from disease prevention to innovative diagnostic and treatment services for simple to complex medical conditions. The hospital provides a full range of inpatient, outpatient, cancer care and emergency care services.

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services

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