This story is part of our weekly Progress section for the month of September. This week focuses on health and wellness. For more Progress stories, check out today's B section.
CLINTON — If you eat right, exercise, and live an overall healthy lifestyle, you might not end up at the Mercy Medical Center cardiac rehabilitation department. However, if you do find yourself there, faces like Amy Alton-Stonebrook and Laura Norman will be there to help you out.
Featuring the latest workout and rehab equipment, the wing of Mercy Medical Center Clinton - North is home to a top-notch staff offering services to patients living with cardiac conditions.
Whether recovering from a heart attack, living with diabetes, or other heart diseases, the cardiac rehab center at Mercy aims to get patients back on their feet and back to daily life.
"We're really working on risk factor modification, and reducing the risk of heart disease through physical exercise," Alton-Stonebrook said of the department. "We have our patients exercise and then we stress the importance of that, and obviously making good life choices as well."
Alton-Stonebrook and Norman oversee patient status throughout a session, monitoring things such as blood pressure and heart rate, all while the patient is using one of the various exercise machines the department has to offer.
Each patient's regimen is different, Norman said, what works for some may not work for others. After all, the department sees patients ranging in age from the 30s to the 90s. That's the job of the department staff, to find out just how much a patients heart can withstand.
But once a regimen has been completed, the job falls on the patient.
"After our work is done, then it's about holding people accountable for continuing to make healthy choices," Norman said. "Once they're done with us, we don't really have the manpower to check in on every person and make sure they're sticking with it. Continuing to exercise, and healthy eating, that's now on you to keep going."
The department does see return patients. Though the staff may enjoy seeing familiar faces, they do wish it was under different circumstances. Alton-Stonebrook joked, "We're hoping our field goes out of business sometime."
The group has picked up some fans along the way as well, as they attempt to deliver the best possible cardiac rehab services in the area.
“Am I a cheerleader for everyone here? Yes. I’ve been through it,” former Clinton Fire Chief Russ Luckritz said in February 2017. “I know what they do, and I know that I don’t want to have to go through it again. But if I do, I want to come here.”
Among the cardiac rehab department and countless other services, the Mercy North campus is also now featuring an expanded long-term living service. It was announced earlier in the year that long-term living care at the organization's Clinton South campus would be consolidating to the North facility.
Approximately 60 residents were relocated, with hopes at the North campus to accommodate up to 86 individuals in the future. The transition was difficult, but Mercy officials recently ensured that it went as smoothly as possible for their patients.
"While it was a difficult time for all of us, we have been very pleased with how the transition to Mercy Living Center North went," said Julie Eggers, Administrator of Mercy Living Center – North. "We continue to put our residents at the center of all that we do every day."
The Mercy Living Center – South location at 638 S. Bluff Blvd will continue housing dialysis, home medical equipment, wound care, therapy services and offices, but the long-term living center of the hospital will be consolidated to the Mercy North campus. According to a previous press release, the merger occurred because of ongoing industry challenges, including a decline in admissions and area population.
The South campus at 638 S. Bluff Blvd., previously known as Bluff Terrace Intermediate Care Facility, was added to Mercy Medical Center in 1977. Executive Director of the Mercy Healthcare Foundation and Marketing Julie Dunn said Mercy is committed to providing support following this change — the elimination of the use for the third, fourth and fifth floors of the Mercy South Campus.
At the time of the announcement in late May, Dunn foreshadowed Eggers' report of a successful transition process.
"We are currently working one on one with residents and their families to review options and provide assistance during this transition," Dunn reported.