After having some stents put in his heart, Derek Rowsell was enrolled in TMC’s Cardiac Rehab – an environment in which clinical staff monitored his heart rhythm and physiological responses while making sure he was properly executing his exercise plan under the umbrella of safety and close supervision. Lucky for him, after his procedure, the great medical insurance he had through his employer picked up a good chunk of the tab. For many others, the bills that come in are added stress at the absolute worst time.
Each visit costs upwards of $250 for cash-paying patients. Typically, insurance picks up about 80 percent of the tab, but oftentimes patients are still required to fork over a hefty co-payment. Many patients still have to come up with $45 for each visit. Multiply that by the 36 visits most patients need, and that’s more than $1,600 each patient has to come up with in order to complete the program. For many folks who are retired and on a fixed income, oftentimes it’s just not feasible.
“You’re already worried about how you’re going to recover. Then to have to figure out how to pay for cardiac rehab – some people really struggle,” Rowsell said. Now considered a phase III patient, he attends cardiac rehab two to three days a week to maintain the cardiovascular progress he’s achieved. He’s also part of Friends of Cardiac Rehab, a group of patients who use TMC Cardiac Rehab as well as families, friends and health professionals interested in cardiac rehabilitation services. Many are long-time survivors of cardiac disease and provide living examples of the benefits of maintaining healthy hearts through exercise, lifestyle changes and reduction of risk factors.
“Everybody in the FOCR group is a patient or a former patient. We’ve all gone through TMC Cardiac Rehab. We’re all aware of how important it is and how much it lifts you up emotionally. We’ve all chosen to stay here. When we come, we are among friends and have developed a culture of safely exercising with people we know,” explained Rowsell.
Three years ago, a group within FOCR formed a fundraising committee to specifically create a scholarship fund to help patients in need. Their idea for a family-friendly event: a bowling tournament.
Each year, it’s held at Lucky Strike Bowl on a Saturday in September.
This year, FOCR raised more than $5,000 from this annual event! In the three years since the bowling fundraiser started, FOCR has raised almost $11,500 dollars for the scholarship fund.
“Without their contribution, we absolutely would not have a scholarship fund,” said Mark Gaxiola, supervisor, Cardiac Rehabilitation. “The group is entirely made up of volunteers. Through their efforts and their compassion, they are able to help patients who have a real financial need. This year alone, 35 patients were able to receive a cardiac rehab scholarship.”
Patients who demonstrate a financial need can receive up to $500.
Rowsell added, “It’s all about more people and more involvement each year. Helping anyone is satisfying. But when you know you’re helping patients who really need it, you get a little extra gratification.”