OMC’s Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Improving Life One Breath at a Time
By Kim Wood
WEST PLAINS, Mo – It’s Friday and Ozark Medical Center’s
(OMC) Pulmonary Rehab patients and family members are gathering for their
monthly luncheon. They are wandering in and out of a dining room containing
a mouth-watering array of lunch items. This is the Ozarks, and these are
some genuine country cooks. The delicious smells greet you as you arrive
at OMC Rehab. The friendly group is quick to invite you in, sharing their
favorite recipes and recommendations for the best dessert.
This event is about the fellowship for this group of patients, most of
whom contend with moderate to severe lung disease, typically Chronic Obstructive
Pulmonary Disease (COPD). These patients are faced with a chronic and
progressive disease and often feel little hope in light of their diagnosis.
Anxiety and depression can be an unsettling side effect of COPD, in as
many as 40 percent of patients.
OMC Pulmonary Rehabilitation can help sufferers of lung disease improve
their ability to function and thus the quality of their life. It is a
program of education and exercise to help manage breathing issues, improve
stamina while decreasing shortness of breath. It does not replace medications
but used in conjunction with them. It helps put patients in charge and
take back their quality of life.
After a thorough assessment, the OMC Pulmonary Rehab team creates a specific
plan for each patient. It may include a supervised exercise program, nutritional
counseling, education, breathing exercises, and counseling or group support.
The program will typically be 2 or 3 times a week, and last for four to
twelve weeks or more.
OMC’s Pulmonary Rehab patients have had great success in managing
their conditions. For example, after discharge from a hospital stay for
an acute exacerbation (AECOPD), they typically experience a re-admittance
rate of less than 3 percent. The national average is 19 percent within
30 days of discharge. OMC Pulmonary Rehab participants armed with the
tools to effectively manage their condition, significantly decrease this
Another meaningful way in which OMC patients are succeeding is in quitting
smoking. A critical component of any Pulmonary Rehab program, OMC patients
achieve an impressive 45-50% rate of quitting, compared to the national
average for similar programs of 30%.
The therapists at OMC Pulmonary Rehab not only help these patients regain
their quality of life but inject their care and enthusiasm for helping
their neighbor. When you work at a smaller healthcare system, everyone
is somebody’s parent, grandparent, etc. which inspires compassion
from the caregivers at OMC.
One such caregiver is Ruth Nabors, a Registered Respiratory Therapist with
over 28 years of experience, who supervises the OMC Pulmonary Rehab program
at OMC. In an environment of shrinking resources, many other programs
have shut down over the past few years, Nabors, with the help of her team,
has been able to grow OMC’s program significantly. She restructured
the program in 2011 with four patients a day, and currently, she and her
team see 20-30 patients a day, with more on a waiting list. The Pulmonary
Rehab team includes, Becky Russell, Rehab Tech and Claribel Newton, RRT,
which are a vital part of this successful department.
At the luncheon, everyone greets one another like old friends with big
smiles and hugs for one another, and especially for Nabors. She welcomes
everyone with enthusiasm and humor. She and her fellow clinicians’
dedication to these patients are apparent, not just as caregivers, but
A vital part of a successful pulmonary rehabilitation program is the skill
and knowledge of its healthcare providers. Recently Nabors earned the
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Certificate developed jointly by the American
Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) and American Association of Cardiovascular
and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). The certificate program provides
pulmonary rehabilitation specialists the knowledge necessary to be a productive
member of the pulmonary rehabilitation team and demonstrates their adherence
to best practices in their field.
“Ruth is an inspirational person, leader, and therapist. She constantly
maintains an attitude of optimism and joy, spreading happiness throughout
her staff, their patients, and other coworkers. Ruth truly takes ownership
over the pulmonary rehabilitation program and will do absolutely anything
necessary to ensure the best possible outcome for patients,” said
Josh Drummond, Director, OMC Rehabilitation Services. “Ruth is an
exceptional asset to OMC in our community, there are not enough good things
to say about her, her staff, and the program that they run.”
In speaking with Nabors, she can’t help but gush about the friendships
and support that have resulted from the program. “There are lots
of beautiful smiles (in these pictures),” said Ruth Nabors, RRT,
OMC Pulmonary Rehab. “Several patients have become friends and started
meeting to eat breakfast or meet at the Senior Center.”
For more information about how OMC's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program
can help people suffering from chronic lung conditions learn to get more
enjoyment out of life, call the OMC Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department at417-257-5959.
Ozarks Medical Center is a system of care encompassing eight primary care
and 16 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral
healthcare, and home care services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital
cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire medical system has more
than 364,000 patient visits annually, in South Central Missouri and Northern
Arkansas. For more information about OMC, visit www.OzarksMedicalCenter.com.
DeAnna (Ruth) Nabors, RRT, OMC Pulmonary Rehabilitation Services
OMC Pulmonary Rehab patients enjoying fellowship at their monthly social.
In pink jacket is Claribel Newton, RRT, with Pulmonary Rehab patients at