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Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program

Winthrop-University Hospital’s renowned Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program provides education, exercise, group support and a home maintenance regimen for patients with breathing disorders.

Patients with asthma, emphysema, some lung cancers or any condition that affects the lungs may benefit from an 8-week Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. Through intensive, supervised exercise, education, behavior modification and emotional support, the program helps patients improve their lives by learning how to cope with their lung conditions, gradually improving their endurance and returning to a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Long Island’s Pulmonary Rehab Program

Established more than 25 years ago, the program is staffed by a team of respiratory therapists, physical therapists and registered nurses who are committed to meeting the unique needs of each patient.

Dr. Girish Balachandran-Nair, MD, heads the Pulmonary Rehabilitation program. Dr. Nair and his multidisciplinary team work together to create a unique plan to help each patient improve his or her quality of life.

Long-Term Benefits of the Pulmonary Rehab Program

Graduates of the program have access to a rehabilitation gym at Winthrop-University Hospital so they can maintain the benefits of improved breathing after the program ends. They also receive ongoing assistance through Eager Breathers (EB), a free support group founded by Mara Bernstein, LRT, and Administrative Director of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at the hospital. Bernstein is devoted to the development and enhancement of advocacy programs for patients with COPD and has a pivotal role in the development and operation of the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program.

“Graduates who attend our monthly EB meetings say the biggest benefit they receive is the feeling of inclusiveness and not being alone,” said Ms. Bernstein. “It really helps to go somewhere where they can share experiences with others who understand what they are going through.”

At the monthly EB meetings, which are led by a healthcare specialist, members discuss a wide range of educational topics such as how to communicate with their physician, as well as holistic approaches to treatment and relaxation and stress management techniques.

A Patient’s Story

Although 69-year-old James Riegel of Baldwin, NY, has advanced emphysema, he hasn’t been hospitalized with any lung-related complications for over twelve years. A retired detective, Riegel attributes his success in managing his condition to Winthrop’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. “The Program has drastically improved my life.”