July 06, 2022

Black River Memorial Hospital pulmonary rehab specialist Kim Schlifer assists a patient.

Pulmonary rehab program at Black River Memorial Hospital helps people breathe better — and live better

Sleeping. Eating. Exercising. Difficulty breathing can make almost every aspect of life a challenge for those who endure it chronically.

Kim Schlifer started the pulmonary rehab outpatient program in 2008 to help people suffering from chronic lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary fibrosis.

Having specialized in outpatient pulmonary rehab, Schlifer believes what makes the program stand out is that all sessions are one-on-one between herself and her patient. Most other area health care facilities provide this type of rehab in a group setting.

“The patient gets my full attention,” Schlifer says. “I get to be the eyes and the ears for the doctor. If there’s a change in symptoms or overall condition, I can communicate that to the doctor.”

The goal-oriented program, accepted by most insurance plans, is aimed at providing patients with more confidence and a better quality of life through techniques that help them breathe better, improve their strength, and build overall endurance. Sessions are typically one hour twice per week. They include breathing and relaxation techniques, exercise, music therapy with a harmonica, individualized programming, and an educational topic, such as inhaler usage, infection prevention, energy conservation, fall prevention, oxygen therapy, safety, home exercise, and tobacco cessation.

Patients who complete the program “don’t feel isolated anymore or as limited in their breathing,” Schlifer says. They can go from depressed to hopeful and get back to “living life to its fullest again.”

Schlifer is excited about the future of the program and hopes more people take advantage of what she believes is a greatly underutilized service.

“I love it,” she says. “It’s my passion.”

A referral from a specialist or your primary care provider is required to participate in the pulmonary rehab program. 

About the author:

comments powered by Disqus