Breathing Better After Pulmonary Program at St. Luke's

The story of Stevan Alburty

By the time Stevan Alburty arrived at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute for the Outpatient Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program, he was in a state of hypoxia, where not enough oxygen was circulating in his body at the tissue level. 

"I had been having problems with shortness of breath," 66-year old Stevan says of what led him to initially see a physician prior to his visit to St. Luke's. "My doctor diagnosed me with diastolic heart dysfunction, which is where the heart doesn't drain properly. I had been searching online when I found information about St. Luke's."

The commitment of coming to St. Luke's three times a week for three months for the program initially made Stevan nervous, he says. "But I did it," he adds. "The exercises you do aren't strenuous for someone who's in good shape. But, when you're short of breath, it makes it difficult." 

"I found the staff to be the real key in making it work for me," Stevan says about his overall impression of the pulmonary program run by registered respiratory therapists with physician oversite. "They were all so dedicated to the program and its ideals. They were patient, friendly and encouraging.  No matter how bad you felt you did, somebody on the staff tells you, 'You did great.' That kind of stuff works."

Stevan says throughout the three months, there were personal touches by the team of therapists who made him feel like they really got to know him. "I truly enjoyed going to the classes, and because of the staff and their support, I began to feel better almost immediately."

"My oxygen rates improved tremendously," he says of his health once the program ended. "My physical ability increased, and I felt like I was back on path towards health."

"The monitored exercises build endurance in our patients and maximize their oxygen, but the program goes well beyond exercise," says Michelle Rogers, St. Luke's respiratory therapist who assists outpatients like Stevan. "Our goal is to help patients gain a better understanding of their pulmonary disease through education and learning about their environment outside of St. Luke's."

 "Your pain is not going to get any better unless you do something about it," Stevan says about recommending St. Luke's to others. "That is the hope for most people with some sort of physical limitation-for it to just get better. You need a structured format. You need the discipline of having to be somewhere three times a week. You need the encouragement of being in a room of other people who are having the same problem you are."

Stevan is still connected with St. Luke's as he addresses his arthritis pain with physical therapy. "I now have a trust level in St. Luke's that I feel quite comfortable joining another program." 

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St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute
711 S. Cowley St.
Spokane, WA 99202-1330

Inpatient Information: (509) 473-6058 or 1-833-FOR-SLR-1
Outpatient Information: (509) 473-6869