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Group forming to help heart patients

Seeks charter members at upcoming meeting

POSTED: February 22, 2013 12:28 a.m.
 

A new organization that helps people dealing with cardiac problems is forming at Northside Hospital-Forsyth.

Jim Thompson, who is leading a new chapter of The Mended Hearts Inc., said the organization is looking for charter members.

An enrollment meeting for anyone interested in the group is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Northside’s Bennett Education Center.

Mended Hearts is a national organization for heart patients and their caregivers.

Thompson said that while the group will have meetings with educational guest speakers, probably about once a month, Mended Hearts’ main purpose is to help those going through cardiac treatments such as bypass surgeries, stints and pacemakers.

“All of us [members] have had what’s called a cardiac event sometime in our lives,” said Thompson, who noted he had a pacemaker and stints put in about three years ago.

“The reason we have the organization is that we go visit the patients just about daily that are getting ready to have a cardiac procedure because we have gone through that same type of procedure.”

Thompson said Mended Hearts members work closely with the hospital to be able to go onto cardiac floors and talk with patients.

“We literally go in and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing? I understand you’re having procedure X, Y or Z, and I just want to let you know that I’ve had this same procedure maybe a year ago and now I play 18 holes of golf every day, or whatever.’”

Thompson said as a cardiac patient, meeting others who’ve had similar experiences can be reassuring.

“It was refreshing to have somebody come in my room and say, ‘Hey, you know what you’re getting ready to do? I’ve got three of those,’” he said. “Psychologically, it’s great to talk to someone who doesn’t talk in all these medical terms that you probably don’t understand.”

He said cardiologists “love Mended Hearts members” too because often patients will open up more to them with questions they may not ask health care personnel.

“The other piece of it is that most cardiologists don’t have pacemakers or stints or whatever, so they can’t talk about things the way someone who’s been through it can,” Thompson said.

Mended Hearts is a national organization with more than 18,000 members reaching cardiac patients at nearly 500 hospitals and other medical facilities around the U.S. and Canada.

Thompson said members at the new Northside-Forsyth chapter will work closely with hospital staff to ensure proper confidentiality procedures are followed.

The hospital is also providing office space for the group to maintain records and resources, such as speakers and food, for chapter meetings.

“We’re looking forward to it and the hospital is very much looking forward to it,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting is open to anyone interested in joining the charter chapter, which will collect annual dues of $27 per individual or $34 for families.

He’s hoping for much success for the new chapter, which needs at least 30 charter members to officially begin.

“It’s kind of payback for us,” Thompson said. “We survived our event and are doing well and we want to let people know, ‘Hey, it’s certainly serious what you’re getting ready to have done, but there are a ton of us that have done that and we’ve done very well afterwards.’”

 

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