500th Cardiac Rehab Patient Graduates from Program at Hillcrest South

The last day Terry Jenkins, 65, walks into cardiac rehab at Hillcrest South as a patient, he arrives with two poinsettias in hand - one for Tina Holloway, RN and another one for Jill Connor, MS. They are the two reasons Terry arrives each session to exercise and rebuild his heart following bypass surgery in June. “I had never worked out in my life,” he says of his physical activity, outside of golf, prior to the program.

Though he thought of himself as a healthy, athletic person, Terry knows if it weren’t for his doctor, Utica Park Clinic physician Dr. David Kondos, also a good friend, he may not be here today. “He said I was in too good of shape at my age, not to have something wrong,” adds Terry.

Dr. Kondos eventually convinces Terry to have some blood work done. When everything looks normal, Terry says Dr. Kondos keeps prodding and wants to know his family history.  “My family history is that everyone lived to be 90 or 100, except my father,” he says. “He died at 56 from a massive heart attack. He died on the dance floor after playing 27 holes of golf. He didn’t smoke. He was the epitome of health.” 

Dr. Kondos recommends a calcium scan, which does reveal a problem. Terry is scheduled for a heart catheritization at Oklahoma Heart Institute for further investigation. Four weeks later he is back for a quadruple bypass surgery with Dr. Michael Phillips.

“I was a walking time bomb,” he admits. “If it weren’t for Dr. Kondos at Utica Park Clinic being insistent about taking care of me, not only as a friend, but as a patient, I’d probably be dead.” 

Terry is admitted for surgery on a Friday and goes home the following Monday. Determined to get back to life, he is quickly back to what he loves – golf and spending time with friends within six weeks of surgery. However, this time, he adds one more activity – exercising three times a week at cardiac rehab.

Outpatient cardiac rehab offered for heart patients at Hillcrest South provides a customized and monitored exercise program to help patients regain strength, while also reducing their risk for recurrent cardiovascular events. The cardiac program addresses not only physical fitness and rehabilitation, but also dietary needs, emotional and education support with lifestyle modifications, as well as education.

Since the cardiac rehab program began at Hillcrest South, hundreds of patients have taken advantage of the medically supervised exercise program to improve their health – 499 in fact. Terry Jenkins’ graduation on November 27, 2013 marks the 500th patient to graduate from the program.

“I said, what do I get, a shopping spree?” Terry jokes of Jill telling him he ended up being number 500 to graduate.

It turns out Terry has been lucky at least twice in life – first, finding the heart disease in time to intervene and save his life; second, celebrating renewed health as the 500th graduate of the cardiac rehab patient at Hillcrest South. However, that is not on his mind as he arrives for his final session. He is thinking of the people he has come to know and enjoy during the course of his rehab.

“It’s excellent,” he adds. “The people are really nice. They’re personable.”