The task of saving lives is at the top of any hospital’s priorities, but Scotland Memorial Foundation’s annual Putting on the Ritz fundraiser enables Scotland Health Care System to go one step further.
In 2011, the Dr. Thomas F. Henley Focus on Hope Foundation sponsored the Ritz as an underwriter, starting an assistance fund for cardiopulmonary patients in honor of Henley, who passed away in 2009.
The fund, known as “Henley’s Hearts,” provides resources for patients who have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or similar cardiac event, enabling them to continue on a medically guided and supervised exercise regimen after their initial rehabilitation period.
“There is a limit that the insurance will pay,” said Richie Henley, wife of Thomas Henley. “Tom’s idea was that somebody who is right on the verge of a breakthrough of exercise becoming a habit, of the exercise really benefiting their mobility, six weeks probably isn’t going to get it, but 12 weeks might.”
Henley himself suffered a heart attack about a decade before his death. Richie Henley attributes her husband’s continued longevity to a physical fitness regimen led by his trainer, Brooks Hale.
“My husband died at 96, and I give Brooks credit for keeping him going,” she said. “Tom went to the gym pretty much five days a week, and Brooks trained him every day.”
“He did great, to be in your 90s and do the things that he could do,” Hale added. “He could run any machine in the gym and push as much as the younger guys would. He was an inspiration to everybody in there, at 94 pushing like 70 pounds. People would come in and say they can’t do it and I said look at this man, look at how old he is and look what shape he’s in.”
Henley started Focus On Hope, Inc. in 2003, but the monies placed in trust then did not take effect until his death.
“Tom was a pediatrician and went back and retrained in the early years of child psychiatry, and because he didn’t have patients until after school was out for the most part, he did adult psychiatry too, and he saw a great need for what he called in psychiatric terms abused and abandoned people,” said Richie Henley. “An abandoned person in this case would be someone who does not have access to proper health care. Those would be the people who are dying and don’t have anybody at home to look after them.”
Established in the last year, Henley’s Hearts enables patients with financial difficulties to continue rehabilitation at a level they could not manage on their own.
“These patients that slip through the cracks, they can’t do gym memberships, and they also want to be medically supervised,” said Kirsten Dean, executive director of Scotland Memorial Foundation. “There’s a fear among many people who have had significant cardiac events. Anybody can go walk, but what if you’re around the corner and something happens?”
Funds are administered through the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation department at Scotland Memorial Hospital, covering the costs of exercise sessions for uninsured and underinsured patients.
“They are also helping with patients who might have health insurance, but their copay is so high that they can’t pay that copay,” said Dean. “So they’re saying that they can only come once every two weeks because that’s what they can afford. This fund is enabling them to come more often than that; they are paying some of it, and the fund is paying some of it. So it’s really helping patients to be able to get there and improve their health.”
The funds also provide for fuel vouchers so that patients can afford to travel to the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center on the hospital’s campus.
“As our economy here changes, they are seeing more and more people who are calling and saying ‘I just can’t come to my appointment because I can’t get there,’” Dean said.
Although physicians have succeeded in saving the lives of the stroke and heart attack victims who walk through the doors of the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation center, the center offers a chance for them to regain their former quality of life.
“They are watching these patients that come in initially terrified to do anything because they have had some sort of event, whether it’s a heart attack or a stroke or some event that has really been a life-changing health event, and they’re terrified,” said Dean. “They start them slowly and as their health improves, their confidence improves.”
Focus On Hope, Inc. will again sponsor the 2012 Putting on the Ritz as a gold underwriter. This year’s Ritz will be held on Nov. 3.