CMHS “Breathing Easy” Program Enhances Quality of Life

No one should find themselves struggling to breathe.  Breathing should be as easy as possible, even for people with health troubles such as chronic respiratory illnesses.  The Thomas Fire threw a lot of ash and pollutants into the region’s air for weeks, making breathing harder for healthy people and highlighting the importance of being able to breathe easy.

Since 1991, Community Memorial Health System has quietly helped people in the community breathe a little easier with assistance from its pulmonary rehabilitation program, Breathing Easy, which aims to enhance quality of life as much as possible.

People with chronic respiratory illnesses like emphysema, pulmonary fibrosis, bronchitis, asthma or other chronic lung disorders may benefit from taking part in this unique six-week program.  Participants need a written referral from their physician, so if you think this program might help you, ask your doctor if you are eligible.  Good candidates are those with chronic lung diseases who are experiencing a shortness of breath, want to be able to do more, and are willing to work to improve their lives.

Enhancing quality of life is the number one goal of the Breathing Easy pulmonary rehabilitation program at CMHS.

Juanita Trine, the CMHS Pulmonary Rehabilitation Coordinator, said the biggest impact she sees in those who attend the program is a reduction in shortness of breath.  “Time and time again, people tell me that they are experiencing less shortness of breath while doing things in their everyday lives like shopping, walking, showering and doing tasks around the house.”

“Another thing that is difficult for a lot of people is walking upstairs,” Trine continued.  “People who have followed the recommendations about stairs from our occupational therapist have actually called me the next day to say how much better it is going up stairs in their homes when they followed her advice.  These are things most of us don’t think twice about doing, but to someone with difficulty breathing, this is huge!”

What does the Breathing Easy program entail?  

Participants come in twice a week for two hours at a time, for six weeks.  Many topics are covered, including anatomy, bronchial hygiene, medications, nutritional education, breathing retraining, stress reduction and relaxation, panic control, oxygen therapy, and the signs and symptoms of lung disorders.  In addition to education, patients are monitored in an individually designed exercise program.

Breathing Easy pulmonary rehabilitation participants are monitored in an individually designed exercise program.

What are the goals of the program for each participant?  

Enhancing quality of life is the number one goal!  This can be achieved by helping people maintain or increase their tolerance for exercise and physical activity, decreasing hospitalizations, increasing patients’ independence, and helping people better understand their pulmonary issue.  A team of doctors, respiratory therapists, dieticians, social workers, physical therapists and occupational therapists work together to design programs for each individual.  They educate and motivate each patient, help them become more mobile and self-reliant, and prevent, detect, and treat complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  We want people to enjoy their lives more and get more out of their leisure time activities.

How much will it cost? 

The cost varies depending on insurance coverage.  Breathing Easy is covered by Medicare and most major providers.  Ask your insurance if you are unsure.

How can I find out more about the Breathing Easy program?  

It’s simple!  Just contact the Community Memorial Health System Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department by calling 805-652-5346 or ask your primary care physician for assistance in learning more and determining eligibility.  Then get on your way to breathing easier!

The Community Memorial Health System Respiratory Therapy Department boasts the only AACVPR certified pulmonary rehabilitation program in Ventura County.

The program is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), which required extensive documentation of program practices for certification.  CMHS’s program remains the ONLY certified program in Ventura County.  Certified AACVPR programs are recognized as leaders in the field of pulmonary rehabilitation because they offer the most advanced practices available.