Health Plus: Mercy Hospital helps patients breathe easier - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Mercy Hospital helps patients breathe easier

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COPD is a condition that keeps a lot of Iowans from breathing easy.

In Health Plus, how Mercy Hospital in Oelwein is helping patients get back on their feet thanks to a pulmonary rehab program.

When one of her children brought home a flu bug in 2002, Pam Haun was having trouble breathing.

"An unknown virus at that time had attacked my lungs and made me very short of breath," Haun said.

Eventually the 53-year-old woman was put on oxygen 24 hours a day and had to quit her job.

"I've been on oxygen now for like 5 years and it's been my best friend, as much as I don't like to admit it, but I wouldn't be here today if I wasn't on it or this program here at the hospital," Haun said.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD was the culprit.

There is no cure for the condition, but help controlling it comes for patients like Haun at Mercy Hospital in Oelwein through pulmonary rehabilitation.

"They will learn how to still be able to do the things they want to do; go to family functions, be outside, go for walks, stuff like that," said Brianne Ledesma, a certified respiratory therapist.

When Haun started coming to Mercy three years ago, she could barely walk on a treadmill.

"I could only be on a treadmill for like 5 minutes and thought the three years that I've been coming here increased my time, quadruple my time," Haun said.

Though still on oxygen, Haun and other nearby patients are thrilled Mercy offers the rehab closer to home.

"It's nice that people can have a program like this here right in town. They don't have to drive far and it's available. And we get a lot of people from surrounding areas actually come to us as well," said Ledesma.

As for Haun's next step?

She recently underwent testing to qualify for the National Lung recipient list through the University of Iowa.

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