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Cardiac rehab center changes lives

La Grange, IL – Since opening just six months ago, the Lawrence Center for Cardiac Rehabilitation already has changed the lives of hundreds of Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital patients recovering from heart surgery and other medical conditions. Western Springs resident Kevin Harris credits staff at the center for helping him turn his life around.

The 55-year-old retiree and his family were vacationing at Walt Disney World in December when he felt the first chest pains. Upon his return home, his primary care physician referred him to a cardiologist, who performed an angiogram at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital and discovered 90 percent blockage in Harris’ left main artery. Harris had a quadruple bypass the next day: Jan. 23, 2008. There’s no doubt in Harris’ mind that he wouldn’t be here today if not for that surgery.


“When you hear about so many people dropping dead from heart problems, it’s just amazing I survived,” he said. 


However, it’s the months that followed that really made a difference. Harris underwent cardiac rehabilitation three times a week for three months at the Lawrence Center for Cardiac Rehabilitation at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. After completion of the program, he started a community-based fitness program with exercise physiologist Wayne Guccione. Clients in the program, which operates within the Adventist Paulson Rehabilitation Network, are closely supervised and required to present a doctor’s release form before starting. New clients can start anytime and the program is tailor-made for each client.


Harris, who’s lost 48 pounds and counting since his operation, said he’s a new man. His about-face has made such an impression on his wife that they both work out together three times a week. Both rave about how they now have more energy and feel better than they have in a long time.


“The surgeon saved my life, but cardiac rehab changed the quality of my life,” Harris said. “The doctors, nurses and therapists there gave me quality of life I didn’t have before.”


Patients typically begin a rehab program while recovering from a heart attack, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, valve surgery or angioplasty. Based in the hospital under the care of physicians, cardiac nurses and exercise physiologists, this type of rehabilitation focuses on progressive exercise using treadmills, bikes and other equipment. Heart rate and rhythm, as well as blood pressure response, is monitored during each session. The program is individualized for each patient and provides education on risk factor modification as well as encouragement and support.


The Lawrence Center for Cardiac Rehabilitation opened in January on the hospital’s first floor, replacing the smaller cardiac rehab center in the hospital’s basement. Last year, the cardiac rehab department logged more than 13,500 patient visits.


Benefactors David and Ann Lawrence of Western Springs provided a generous donation to the center through the La Grange Memorial Hospital Foundation on their 50th wedding anniversary following David’s completion of the cardiac rehab program. Like Harris, the former Western Springs village president underwent bypass surgery at the hospital.


“Like so many of our patients, both Kevin Harris and David Lawrence should be congratulated for the commitment they made to their own personal health,” said Kathy Morrissey, RN, clinical coordinator of cardiac rehabilitation at the center. “We have the brand new center and a talented staff to provide the tools people need to change their lifestyle, but ultimately it’s up to each and every patient to take responsibility for their own well-being. And Kevin and David have done that, just like so many other patients who have completed the program.”



Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.  To find a physician, visit