LeConte’s Healthy Lifestyles is a health and wellness publication printed twice a month in local newspapers serving Sevier County and South Knoxville. And here online! We hope you find this information healthful.
Table of Contents
Language of the Heart
Learn More About Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation
LeConte Sports Medicine Honored with Award
Breast Center Maintains Excellence Designation
Mark Your Calendar!
Download this edition
Employees at a Sevier County gas station had an unexpected guest on the night of Aug. 14, 2015. Juan Guzman dragged himself onto the property, and told them to call 9-1-1 because he was having a heart attack.
“My heart was trying to tell me for three months that something was wrong in my body,” Guzman says.
Energetic and full of life today, telling his story through an interpreter at LeConte Medical Center’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation facility (CROP), you’d never guess that Guzman was certain he was going to die less than a year ago. Guzman explains through the interpreter that three of his brothers and other family had already died from heart disease, and he had presumed he was going to be next.
“August 14th is Mother’s Day in Costa Rica,” Guzman says. “I thought I was going to see my mother on Mother’s Day. I was ready to die.”
When Guzman experienced the first signs of heart disease, he dismissed them as part of his diabetes. He decided he could treat the new aches and pains with anti-inflammatory medicines.
But Patty Suggs, RN, says the particular symptoms Guzman experienced were definitely indicative of heart problems. “Pain in the back, the neck and the jaw are very common,” Suggs says. “It was more from heart disease than diabetes.”
Guzman says the color of his skin began to change. His friends became concerned.
Assuming the worst because of his family history, Guzman made no secret of the fact that he thought his life was coming to an end. As a result, his friends began to treat him like a man with a death sentence – rallying around him, bringing food, and having what was practically a wake for the living.
The breaking point came one night after work. Guzman was exhausted and in pain, and says he knew his heart had had enough.
Guzman put his medicines in a bag and dragged his body across the street, collapsing at the gas station. An ambulance rushed him to LeConte Medical Center, and from there he was transferred to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville where a procedure was performed to place a stent in his heart via a catheter.
It was recommended that Guzman enroll in the cardiac rehabilitation program at LeConte Medical Center. For some people, it might seem counterintuitive to exercise after a heart attack. But Suggs says rest is only one component of full recovery.
“The heart is like a muscle, and we can build that muscle,” Suggs explains. “The goal is to increase the cardiac pump action.”
Patients at LeConte’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program (CROP) are assigned a series of exercises under the watchful eyes of medical staff members. Each patient wears a heart monitor, and the level of difficulty depends on the patient’s physical ability at the start of the program.
The exercises become more challenging as the heart becomes stronger. CROP also includes instruction on diet and lifestyle changes to support a healthy heart.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, and anxious to try anything that might help him avoid another heart attack, Guzman arrived for his first appointment. There was just one problem.
Guzman speaks very little English, so communicating what he needed to do was difficult, and it was also difficult for Guzman to communicate how the exercises were affecting him.
He brought Miguel Soriano along for the first session, a good friend who helped overcome the initial language barrier. By the second visit, CROP had brought in Maria Mallimaci as interpreter.
“I was never worried, because I felt so welcome, and everyone here was so professional,” Guzman says through Mallimaci. “So it made me feel that I was in good hands all the time.”
Together, the team worked to help Guzman become healthy and strong. Mallimaci stayed by his side and became Guzman’s voice. In turn, she became the voice of the staff for Guzman.
A full 36 exercise sessions later they had become like a family, all working toward a common goal. Guzman celebrated his graduation from CROP by bringing lunch to his new friends, which was enjoyed complete with entertainment from Mallimaci, who played the guitar and sang.
“I want to give thanks to the people who work here because they were very professional, and they made me feel like I have found new friends,” Guzman says.
In addition to building special relationships with the people who helped him heal, Guzman has gained a new chance at a longer life. “I feel that all the cardiac rehab has helped my heart to be stronger,” Guzman says. “I have no problems with my heart. I feel happier, with more strength.”
Suggs doesn’t let CROP take all the credit. She says the program is only as good as the effort a patient is willing to put into in it. “He was a hard worker, he was motivated, and he did well,” she says. “It’s been a blessing to work with him.”
Suggs says success stories like Guzman’s are why she loves her job so much. If you ask Guzman how he’s doing now, he’ll offer up one more word for translation.
“Perfecto,” he says — the Spanish word for “perfect.”
LeConte Medical Center Cardio Pulmonary Rehab logoCardiopulmonary rehabilitation is beneficial to patients who have heart or lung problems, or those who are considered to be at high risk. The program at LeConte Medical Center has been certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), and is covered by most insurance policies.
The goal of CROP is to safely restore physical fitness and function for people who have recently had serious cardiac or pulmonary events, like a heart attack. Through exercise, education, counseling and healthy lifestyle changes, patients regain confidence in exercising their heart and lungs through a structured and supervised program designed to reduce the risk of further complications from heart and lung disease.
Sessions take place inside LeConte’s Dolly Parton Center for Women’s Services. Ask your doctor for a referral and, for more information, visit lecontemedicalcenter.com/cprehab.
Saturday, Jan. 16, the sports medicine program at LeConte Medical Center received the Corporate Award from the Tennessee Athletic Society. TATS presents this award annually to individuals or groups who have distinguished themselves by making significant contributions to or providing athletic training profession in the state of Tennessee.
Since 2001 LeConte Sports Medicine has provided certified athletic trainers who are medically licensed healthcare providers to cover all sports at Sevier County’s high schools. LeConte Sports Medicine coordinates the athletic healthcare for students, providing comprehensive on-site services for Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, Pigeon Forge High School, Seymour High School, Sevier County High School, and Northview Academy. These services include injury/illness prevention and wellness protection, clinical evaluation and diagnosis, immediate and emergency care, treatment and rehabilitation, and organizational and professional health and well-being.
In October 2014 LeConte Medical Center was pleased to expand athletic training services into neighboring Cocke County, providing certified athletic trainers at Cosby High School and Cocke County High School.
Last year LeConte Medical Center expanded athletic training services to Rocky Top Sports World, employing both certified athletic trainers and paramedics to provide care for athletes competing at the venue.
Both LeConte Medical Center and sports medicine coordinator Scott Byrd are previous recipients of the Corporate Award.
The LeConte Comprehensive Breast Center received re-certification as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiology. There are fewer than 200 ACR registered mammography facilities in the state of Tennessee, and only 32 have earned the distinction of being Breast Imaging Centers of Excellence.
By awarding facilities the status of a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, the ACR recognizes breast imaging centers that have earned accreditation in all of the College’s voluntary breast-imaging accreditation programs and modules, in addition to the mandatory mammography accreditation program.
The breast imaging services at this center are fully accredited in mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy, breast ultrasound, ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, and breast MRI. Peer-review evaluations, conducted by board-certified physicians and medical physicists, have determined that the facility has achieved high practice standards in image quality, personnel qualifications, facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs.
The ACR accreditation program shows patients, referring physicians, other healthcare providers, and insurance companies that our facility provides quality patient care. Each of the accreditation programs requires that staff members providing the Center’s services meet specific qualifications. They must also meet equipment requirements and demonstrate ongoing quality assurance. Participation in the voluntary programs shows LeConte’s commitment to ongoing quality for our patients.
Join the Volunteers at LeConte Medical Center for a benefit sale featuring Books Are Fun!
Feb. 23 | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Feb. 24 | 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The LeConte Medical Center Book Sale is located in the Hospital Classrooms at 742 Middle Creek Road. Convenient parking is available in Lot A.
You won’t want to miss this exciting sale featuring fun gifts and an excellent selection of books!
Community Health Fair
March 4 | 9 – 11 a.m.
Pigeon Forge Community Center (170 Community Center Drive)
Free health screenings, health information and reduced-price lab work! Call (865) 453-WELL (9355) for details.
Denim & Diamonds
March 18 | 6 p.m.
Music Road Convention Center in Pigeon Forge
Join us for great food, drinks, games, dancing, prizes, and a live and silent auction. Tickets are $50, and proceeds benefit the Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation. For tickets or information, call (865) 446-9628.