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PACHS Cardiac Rehabilitation Program Received National Recognition

By Staff | Feb 23, 2016

CARDIAC REHAB TEAM -- Members of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team at Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg are pictured with Cardiac Rehab patient Gayle Meyer of Whittemore. Team members (pictured from the left) are Jeri Heddinger, RN, Sue Faulstick, RN, Sheryl Mortenson, BSN, and Vienna Hahle, RN. --submitted photo

Palo Alto County Health System’s (PACHS) cardiac rehabilitation program has once again achieved national certification from the American Association of Cardiovascular/Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). To achieve this recognition, the cardiac rehabilitation program had to meet rigorous standards in areas including exercise, education, behavior change and counseling.

In 2006, the Palo Alto County Health System rehabilitation program participated in an application process that required extensive documentation of the program’s practices. Upon approval, the AACVPR National Program Certification Committee and the AACVPR Board of Directors issued a certificate, which was valid for three years. Each three years the PACHS program has recertified. Earning this certificate is a symbol of meeting the highest quality patient care in cardiac rehabilitation

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation programs are designed to help people with cardiovascular problems (e.g., heart attacks, coronary artery bypass graft surgery) and pulmonary problems (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], respiratory symptoms,) recover faster and improve their quality of life. Both programs include exercise, education, counseling, and support for patients and their families.

“This certification recognizes that our patients are being cared for in a safe environment by people who are dedicated to quality care and services”, said Desiree Ensweiler, Administrator and CEO of Palo Alto County Health System.

Sheryl Mortenson, RN, Head Nurse of the PACHS Cardiac Rehabilitation Program commented, “Jeri Heddinger led the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program before I took over in June of 2016. She was instrumental in not only putting together the Cardiac and Pulmonary programs here at PACHS but in doing all the work to certify the programs in 2006 and recertify each three years with the AACVPR. “

At Palo Alto County Health System, cardiac rehab is offered for all patients who have had or have stable angina, heart attack, stent placement, angioplasty, bypass surgery, valve replacement surgery and heart transplant. The program provides the cardiac patient and their family with education and behavior modification resources to improve their cardiac well-being and to understand their diseases process. The patient attends sessions where their heart and blood pressure is monitored while they exercise. They are also counseled on proper diet and stress management. After “graduation” from the program, many patients choose to continue their exercise program through a maintenance program located at the hospital.

Sheryl Mortenson commented, “I am proud of the Cardiac and Pulmonary programs we have here at PACHS. I love my new role in these departments and enjoy working with all our patients who are working diligently to improve their health.”


Founded in 1985, the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the mission of reducing morbidity, mortality and disability from cardiovascular and pulmonary disease through education, prevention, rehabilitation, research and disease management. Central to the core mission is improvement in quality of life for patients and their families.