Ask St. Ann’s – Why is Transitional Care Essential After a Cardiac Event?

By Sharon Osborne, Executive Director of Transitional Care Center (TCC) & Rehabilitation Services at St. Ann’s Community

Achieving the best possible outcome after a heart attack or other cardiac event takes time and expert care. Upon discharge from the hospital, a short stay at a transitional care center is the best way to regain the strength and independence you need to return home safely.

After a cardiac event or surgery, daily activities that were once second nature are more challenging — and potentially dangerous — when you take on too much, too soon. The rehabilitation specialists at the Transitional Care Center at St. Ann’s Community recommend that you receive education and interventions modified to your needs, to conquer these challenges:

• Energy conservation: With a limited amount of energy at your disposal, learning how to use your strength wisely and pace yourself is essential. Sitting on a chair in the shower keeps you from feeling depleted by the heat and steam. After getting dressed, do some breathing exercises or take a two-minute break to recover before going on to the next task.

• Activity tolerance: A series of exercises and endurance training can help you increase your standing tolerance so you can do simple things like shaving and brushing your teeth.

• Breathing: Instead of allowing a painful sternal incision to impair your breathing, holding a pillow to your chest can make taking deep breaths easier and deliver enough oxygen throughout your body.

• Adaptive equipment: Avoid overexerting yourself with the help of adaptive equipment that eliminates the need for you to bend down, reach overhead or walk without assistance while doing daily activities. Examples include using a sock aid for dressing and a wheeled walker for stability and support. Your occupational therapist will recommend equipment based on your condition and help you learn how to use it properly.

Choosing the best place for your needs.

Rochester is fortunate to have several transitional care centers, so it’s essential to find the one that will give you the highest likelihood of returning to your prior living situation. Look for:

• Interdisciplinary teams of medical, nursing, therapeutic, dietary and social work professionals to manage patient care after cardiac or other health events, including after discharge to home to ensure your safety

• Admissions seven days a week

• Rehab six days a week for the quickest possible recovery

• The latest technology to help you get more out of rehab, faster

• Be sure to ask about patient outcomes, too.

Where you go for rehabilitation is up to you.

Having a cardiac event is a wake-up call. A successful rehabilitation experience helps you learn new ways to care for yourself and regain your independence so you can get home as soon as possible. So be sure to include a transitional care stay in your recovery plan.

 Sharon Osborne is Executive Director of Transitional Care Center (TCC) and Rehabilitation Services at St. Ann’s, a senior community offering a full continuum of care in Rochester. Email her at [email protected], call 585-697-6483 or visit

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