Rediscovering Your Confidence
How cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation can enhance quality of life

By on March 2, 2023


Returning home after experiencing a health issue with your heart or lungs can be scary. As you recover from treatments and/or procedures, you may feel anxious about a medical team not being there with you.

Your doctor will give you tips for your first few weeks back home, and one may very well be exercise. It’s an important part of recovery, and the best way to begin is to join a medically supervised cardiac and/or pulmonary rehabilitation program.

These medically supervised sessions are individually designed to provide the best type of exercise and education for each patient. Marcie Jurges, exercise physiologist in The Outer Banks Hospital Cardiopulmonary Rehabilita­tion Program, notes, “Our focus is to help each person feel better, increase their strength, and overcome the fear that often remains after a cardiac event or new pulmonary diagnosis. We want to build their confidence so that they can begin to get back to what they love.”

To ensure the best possible outcome for each patient, the department takes a holistic approach to the rehabilitation journey. “We also teach and encourage lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, taking medications as prescribed, reducing stress, smoking cessation, and maintaining a healthy weight,” said rehabilitation therapy team member Ashley Taylor, RN.

In addition, a maintenance program is offered for those patients who graduate from the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation programs and want to continue to exercise in our facility.

If you would like information about these programs and other services offered, call our Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Department at 252-449-5930.

Navigating the Exercise Journey

Robin Hollowell (left), a patient in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, receives support from Marcie Jurges, exercise physiologist.

Kill Devil Hills resident Robin Hollowell has had her share of cardiac and pulmonary health challenges, beginning back in 2017, when she noticed shortness of breath while taking the stairs and walking on the beach. “I thought I was just getting out of shape because I’m not one to exercise,” explained Hollowell. An appointment with a cardiologist led to the discovery of two blockages and ultimately a stent procedure. “My doctor recommended cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, which is something I was very interested in trying,” she said. “After something like that, you have some fear about exercising.”

Hollowell still dealt with shortness of breath after the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, and it was the hospital cardiopulmonary rehab team that recommended she see a pulmonologist. Hollowell did so and discovered that she was suffering from a form of pulmonary fibrosis. “Ms. Hollowell has a progressive pulmonary disease, and although there is no cure, her participation in the pulmonary rehabilitation program and now the Self Training Exercise Program (STEP) help her to build stamina so she can function at her highest level,” noted team member Ashley Taylor, RN.

When Hollowell finished pulmonary rehabilitation, she chose to continue with the rehab team through STEP. “It helps me because it pushes me to exercise. I’m more confident to do that with the team around me. They’re all great—it’s like family there.”


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