People living in the communities surrounding Surry County, N.C., will have access to a new cardiac rehabilitation program thanks to a partnership between Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Northern Hospital of Surry County. Wake Forest Baptist started the first cardiac rehabilitation program in the state.

The newly installed treadmills are already humming on the third floor at Northern Hospital, where earlier this month the first patients were admitted to the Northern Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

Cardiac rehabilitation is a program of exercise, education, counseling and learning designed to help people with heart disease make needed changes for a healthier lifestyle. Participating in a cardiac rehab program allows for quicker recovery from heart attack, heart-related surgery or other heart disease. The ultimate goal is to enable patients with cardiac disorders to resume active and productive lives.

Patients enrolled in cardiac rehab typically attend the program two to three times a week. For local residents, a 60-mile round trip taken several times a week is time consuming, tiring, and expensive. All of these factors can result in some patients failing to finish their prescribed treatment plan. Local residents may now come to Northern where they are closer to home and more easily able to see their program to completion.

Before the doors officially opened at the beginning of May, more than 20 referrals had already been received from cardiologists throughout the region including offices in Mount Airy and Winston-Salem.

Northern Hospital Foundation applied for a grant to receive the initial funds needed for construction of the new cardiac rehabilitation department. The hospital was awarded $250,000 from The Duke Endowment.

An open house and ribbon cutting will be held on Friday, May 19.