Feb 19, 2010 2:16 AM by Danielle Lerner
Cardiac rehab patients at Arroyo Grande Community Hospital will soon have to go elsewhere.
The hospital's Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program is closing Friday.
The 6 to 8 week program offers supervised exercise sessions to patients who have suffered heart trauma.
About 30 people still take part in the extended maintenance program.
"What is it that is more important than making sure a senior is alive?" said former Arroyo Grande Mayor and former patient Allan Dougall.
He cannot believe the hospital is closing the doors of its rehab program.
He used the program for 34 weeks back in 2000 and says it is an asset to the senior community.
"If you do it on your own without any kind of assistance, you know you're just kind of flying blind," he said.
In a written statement the hospital's president, Rick Castro, says it was a very difficult decision, but it "needs to concentrate on using our resources for a larger population... such as patients who need physical therapy after surgical procedures that are performed at our facility."
Castro also says services like free flu shot clinics, free health screenings and health education can serve a larger segment of the community.
The hospital is referring current maintenance patients to other hospitals and local fitness centers, equipped with AED's and CPR-certified staff.
Still, Dougall says being in the gym just is not the same.
"They have stopped me several times when my blood pressure got too high," he said. "At a gym there's nobody there that can help you with that program, they'd have to call 911."
Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria and French Hospital in San Luis Obispo both have similar rehab programs.
Several area gyms are also offering discounted rates to rehab patients.
Hospital administrators say they made sure the closure would not affect jobs.
We are told the nurses involved in the rehab program have been reassigned to other areas.
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