More than 35 years of compassionate care from Mercy Health — Tiffin Hospital
Saying that Lew Campbell is a survivor is putting it mildly. Lew had his first open heart surgery at the age of 42 in 1977. Thirty-five years later he has survived two additional heart attacks and his body houses nine stents.
Despite all this, Lew is happy and active – something he credits the medical care he has received from his physicians, nurses and the Mercy Health – Tiffin Hospital cardiac rehabilitation program — the same program he has utilized for 35 years.
After Lew’s first open heart surgery, he suffered a heart attack in 1983. Thirty-five years ago, Kathy Weaver headed up the first cardiac rehabilitation program at Mercy Health – Tiffin when it was on the second floor of the original hospital at 485 West Market Street.
“They had one treadmill and one Schwinn Airdyne at the time,” Lew said. “Eventually, they moved the rehab unit downstairs.”
The importance of cardiac rehab
Lew said that by 1990, he had an additional open heart surgery, at which time new arteries were placed.
“Technology has been great,” he said. “And I’ve had great cardiologists beginning with Dr. (Dinesh) Thekdi. They recommended the cardiac rehab and encouraged me to keep doing it. I credit the cardiac rehab.”
Lew said that he carries nitroglycerin spray with him just in case and when he gets tired he stops. He says he is able to do “pretty much what I want to do.”
“I recommend cardiac rehab,” he said. “I never stopped coming. it just made sense. I did 55 minutes this morning and do at least 30 minutes a couple of times a week.”
Lew also enjoys the other individuals who join him in the cardiopulmonary rehab program – a group that meets at 7:30 am most days.
“We just have fun,” he said. “And I feel obligated to come. The nurses here check on you – (they monitor) your blood pressure and oxygen. And it makes Carol happy,” he says with a smile.
Carol is his wife, who has volunteered at the hospital for the past eight years as a patient escort and staffing the information desk.
“This staff got me interested in volunteering,” she said. “I had retired the year before and saw folks I knew volunteering. I liked the new hospital (which opened in 2008). Lew received such special care and I wondered if they needed more volunteers.”
Carol feels very comfortable in knowing that her husband is getting needed exercise while being monitored by the nurses.
“There is a lot to be said for a small hospital,” Carol said. “Lew had good care (here) and at Mercy Health – St. Vincent Medical Center too – he has had very good nursing care.”
Upgrades from the Mercy Health Foundation
Lew noted that throughout the years, his care was emphasized by caregivers who each provided their own personal touch.
“I’ve been here (at Mercy Tiffin) my whole nursing career,” said one of Lew’s caregivers, Pam Kelbley. “I’ve gotten real close to Lew and Carol. He’s dedicated – he comes twice a week even if he’s not feeling good – I worry if he isn’t here. Lew has been positive in encouraging other patients. He’s made lifelong friends.”
Lew and the others in the cardiopulmonary program greatly appreciate the modern equipment utilized in the current cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department, much of which was purchased through donations to the Mercy Health Foundation – Tiffin. The latest of these is a pair of new treadmills.
“You never know when you might be the one that needs equipment like this,” said Patty Cole, who donated toward the new treadmills with her husband. “We want our hospital to have state-of-the-art equipment,” she said. “It benefits our community.”
Thanks to Mercy Health’s cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program, volunteers like his wife, and generous donations, Lew is able to continue to enjoy life – longer than he once expected.
“I never thought I would be this old,” Lew said with a smile.