Lincoln Man Celebrates 2,000 Cardiac Rehab Workouts

cardiac rehab, Lincoln Memorial Hospital

When Lee Woods arrived for his 2,000th cardiac rehab workout at 6 a.m. on January 3, there were lots of smiles, congratulatory signs and some healthy cookies waiting for him after his attendance milestone.

“I’ve always been an early riser,” Lee said. “It’s something to look forward to. I get in and get it done.” He’s been getting it done for 17 years.

The 85-year-old started cardiac rehab in downtown Lincoln at the former site of Lincoln Memorial Hospital. When a new hospital was built west of town in 2011, Lee and his cardiac rehab team moved to an expanded space filled with more equipment and floor-to-ceiling windows that let in the sunshine.

It might not be a “new” space anymore, but it is still Lee’s destination three days a week at 6 a.m., and he rarely misses his scheduled workout.

“The staff is great,” he said. “Two came with the hospital from the old to the new. The continuity is important. I like to come in and see the same faces here each day.”

cardiac rehab, Lincoln Memorial Hospital

The retired accountant started his cardiac rehab journey after undergoing open heart surgery in 2007 at the age of 69. He had failed a routine treadmill stress test, which alerted Lee’s provider to the need for bypass surgery.

Ruth, Lee’s wife of 61 years and a retired RN, supported the idea of regular cardiac rehab workouts. Lee joked that she likes to get him out of the house.

“The main thing is that I’m still going at this age,” he said. “I feel pretty good about it.”

Penny McIntosh, RN, and Paula Snodgrass, RN, are the two Lee mentioned who work for the cardiac rehab program at LMH. They, too, appreciate the expanded area because it has allowed them to serve more patients. They especially enjoy the ongoing relationships with patients who come in regularly to complete their cardiac rehab workouts.

“Lee came over to the new facility with us,” said Penny. “He’s here before 6 a.m., before me most days! It feels great to have a patient like that. They become friends because they are a part of our lives for so long. They are just family. That’s the perk of this job.”

Paula agreed.

“Lee is totally faithful, comes three days a week no matter the weather! If I said 5:30 a.m., he’d be there,” she added laughing. “He’s an amazing 85-year-old, and he’s never had another cardiac issue.”

Benefits of cardiac rehab for most patients include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, helping with weight management, strengthening the heart muscle and overall longevity.

The Lincoln Memorial Hospital Foundation helped fund some of the equipment in the room, which includes all types of recumbent bikes for different activity levels as well as treadmills, ellipticals and other machines.

“We tell people ‘move it or lose it,’” Paula said. “This facility helps keep people going. The outpatient experience is wonderful. I have the best job in town as a nurse.”