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Grand River Health hopeful to retain more patients with new cardiac, pulmonary rehabilitation center

Grand River Health Exercise Physiologist Geoffrey Curtis does a leg workout at the new cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

Grand River Health is preparing to open a new cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation center later this month, hospital officials said.

“In the past, anybody who has needed one of these services — cardiac or pulmonary rehab — have had to travel to either Glenwood Springs or Grand Junction,” Cardiopulmonary Services Director Jeff Wold said. “We’ve had a lot of patients right here in the Rifle, De Beque, Silt, New Castle area that were having to travel for this rehab.”

The new center, slated for a grand opening from 4-6 p.m. Jan. 20, offers a 36-week program to patients recovering from any major heart and lung issues. The programs will be overseen by an exercise physiologist, respiratory therapist and dietitians and nutritionists, Wold said.



Wold said cardiopulmonary patients are put through an exercise program 2-3 days per week. For about 1.5 hours, patients are given warm-up sessions, guided exercise programs and cool-downs. Patients — many recovering from ailments like heart attacks, stent placements, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more — work out together.

“There’s definitely a really good community aspect to that, that these patients are exercising together,” Wold said. “It just helps them learn to change their lifestyle, to hopefully not have the issues that brought them to us, and just maintain their health, learning nutrition, learning stress management, learning how to exercise properly.”



Grand River Health Registered Dietitian Britney Holbrook runs on a treadmill inside the new cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

The cardiopulmonary center opens in Grand River Health’s new hospital wing, one of two major projects made possible by an $89.4 million bond issue passed by hospital district voters in 2017. One assurance of the bond issue and the new wing, which opened in June 2021, was establishing a cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center.

Now that it’s soon kicking off, Wold estimated the new center could receive up to 20-30 patients per month.

Wold, a respiratory therapist for the past 31 years who’s worked at Grand River Health and formerly of Aspen Valley Hospital, said it’s exciting to see the new center open. The new amenity only adds to the growing potential of Grand River, Wold said.

“I knew that being able to be possibly involved with starting a cardiac rehab was a potential,” he said. “This hospital wanted to become the quality facility that it’s becoming, and I wanted to be part of that.”

Grand River Health Administrative Director Annick Pruett said, following many community meetings, the center expands and meets so many local needs.

“This has been a service the community has asked for for over a decade,” she said. “Putting this into place, we needed the space to be able to do it and the personnel to do it.”

A workout facility at the new cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center at Grand River Health on Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Citizen Telegram

While staffing shortages have affected Grand River in recent memory, Pruett said December saw the Rifle hospital hire a record-breaking 28 new employees. Meanwhile, since the new Grand River Health wing opened, the hospital increased in-patient stays from 11-12 per day to 14-16.

“Some were hired on employee referrals, more people are moving into the area. For front-line positions, there were wage adjustments, and that seems to help, so I think it’s a multitude of reasons,” she said. “I think a lot of people are tired of long commutes.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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