Healthwise: Heart To Heart

By: Cheryn Stone Email
By: Cheryn Stone Email

November 5, 2009

A new program at Martha Jefferson Hospital is helping people living with heart and vascular disease down the road to recovery. The idea was sparked by a patient who thought something was missing in her treatment. The program is called "Heart To Heart".

In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise, CBS19's Cheryn Stone talked to Amanda Megargel to learn more about how her program will help patients and their families.

Amanda survived a heart attack two years ago, and physically, she made a strong comeback. "Was told after 6 to 8 weeks I'd be back to normal, and although my heart was completely healed, I was feeling anything but normal," she said.

It was the emotional fallout from her recovery that would weigh heavily on Amanda's heart.

"You're being told you have to make some major changes in your lifestyle and you might just be feeling depressed or confused or completely angry about the whole situation. You're sort of wondering how I am going to get from this stage to getting your life back on track," she said.

"You're often left with this emotional fall out which is, 'why did this happen to me?' There are stages some people go through, including shock and denial," said clinician Cathy Reece.

Amanda Megargel looked for a support group of people coping with similar emotional problems, but she could not find one. So, Megargel came to Martha Jefferson Hospital to create her own, and Heart To Heart came to fruition.

"The Heart To Heart group came out of a need to look at this emotional recovery for both the patients and the family," said Megargel.

The group will soon start having monthly meetings for patients and their families. The first meeting is scheduled for November 17 at 6pm at the Outpatient Care Center at Peter Jefferson Place. Heart specialists will offer advice on heart disease and recovery. However, Megargel wants the meetings to act as more than just a support group.

"It's a chance to meet somebody who has gone through what you have gone through and has come out on the other side," she said.

Heart To Heart can pair a patient with a mentor who had a similar experience and is closer to that other side of recovery. It's a support system Megargel says she lacked in her recovery.

In the end, Megargel hopes people discover that with Heart To Heart, the road to recovery is so much smoother when you do not have to take it alone.

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