PORT TOWNSEND — Business and community leaders from across the North Olympic Peninsula kicked off a fundraising effort supporting Jefferson Healthcare hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program during the fourth annual Well Hearts luncheon.
“With the growth of our cardiac clinic and with your help of that growth by trusting us with your cardiac care, we are able to revitalize our cardiac rehab program,” Jennifer Wharton, chief medical group officer at Jefferson Healthcare, said during Friday’s luncheon at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend.
Wharton said the luncheon marked the beginning of Jefferson Healthcare Foundation’s campaign to raise $50,000 for a telemetry machine for the cardiac rehabilitation program.
She said it would give providers real-time access to information about vital signs, allow access and collection of population health data and the machine would integrate into Jefferson Healthcare’s electronic health record.
The luncheon was held on American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day, which raises awareness and support for ending heart disease and strokes in women.
Jefferson Healthcare Cardiologist Dr. David Tinker told those who attended that the cardiac rehabilitation program is in transition now and is being revitalized.
He spoke about the program being a secondary prevention measure that is proven to be effective.
“It’s effective, important and valuable,” he said.
Judy King, a nurse at Jefferson Healthcare who had been involved in the program for a decade, said cardiac health is a topic that’s “near and dear to my heart.”
She said she has seen firsthand the difference the program has made for the lives of her patients.
As she spoke, she started with the “bad news” about cardiovascular disease.
It’s the No. 1 killer in the United States, claiming the lives of 800,000 people per year, she said. That’s one person every 38 seconds.
“It claims more lives than all of the cancers combined and all of the pulmonary diseases combined,” she said.
The good news, she said, is that the majority of cardiovascular disease is preventable.
“It can be done by controlling people’s risk factors,” she said. “That includes stopping smoking, managing obesity, not living a sedentary life style, improving diet, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol and managing stress.”
She said the cardio rehab program encompasses much of that. It’s a medically supervised exercise and education program for people who have heart disease.
“We didn’t prevent these people from having their first cardiac event, but we want to prevent them from having their second, third or fourth,” she said.
Jefferson Healthcare has been providing cardiac care since the 1980s when it partnered with Kitsap Cardiology Consultants.
That partnership led to Jefferson Healthcare starting a cardiology program with Tinker in 2014 and opening a new cardiology clinic in 2016.
Wharton said Jefferson Healthcare is continuing to hire people to help with the program.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer told those who attended that “this community gets it when it comes to the important of protecting access to quality affordable Healthcare,” he said.
The Gig Harbor Democrat said that in his six years serving in Congress he has witnessed attacks on the health care system.
He said that of his constituents, Jefferson County residents are the most vocal and they express concerns about health care.
“You speak about the importance of protecting rural health care,” he said. “You speak up about the importance about preventive care, so we’re not just looking at treating people when they are sick, but we’re actually trying to keep people from getting sick in the first place.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].