Northwell opens post-op Cardiac Rehab Center

From the heart: With a host of Northwell Health officials standing by, cardiologist Benjamin Hirsch does the honors at the ribbon-cutting for Northwell's new Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Great Neck.

Long Island’s only heart-transplant program now has its own recovery center.

Leveraging an expanded slate of cardiovascular services at Manhasset’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital, including Long Island’s first and only heart-transplant program, the Northwell Health system officially cut the ribbon last week on its pioneering Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Great Neck.

The state-of-the-art facility is the result of a $500,000 investment by the New Hyde Park-based health system, which stocked the leading-edge center with the latest treadmills, recumbent bicycles and upper-body ergometers. The center also features free weights and a stretching area – but this is more than some fancy gym, according to Barry Kaplan, co-director of the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital and cardiology chairman at both North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

“The center provides a vital service to our heart patients in the community after they leave the hospital,” said Kaplan, who also serves as senior vice president and executive director of Northwell Health’s cardiology service line. “Our team of experts provides customized exercise programs for our cardiac patients to get stronger and help them gain the confidence they need to get back to everyday living while focusing on a heart-healthy lifestyle.”

Permanently staffed by a nurse practitioner, an exercise physiologist and a registered dietician, the Cardiac Rehabilitation Center is led by Benjamin Hirsch, director of preventive cardiology at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital.

Barry Kaplan: Vital post-operative efforts.

The 1,700-square-foor center is located adjacent to a Northwell Health cardiology office with 11 physicians and its own cardiac diagnostic suite, which offers nuclear and vascular stress tests and a host of other critical diagnostics.

Prior to beginning a post-transplant exercise program, patients who have undergone coronary artery stenting or open-heart surgery – or have been diagnosed with myocardial infarction or other heart conditions – will be evaluated at the center to establish fitness baselines and help providers create individualized plans.

Typical exercise programs include 24 to 36 sessions, usually two to three times a week, with patients outfitted with remote monitors that track pulse rates, blood pressure and other vital signs. Northwell Health anticipates servicing roughly 40 rehab-center patients per day.

“Cardiac rehabilitation improves vascular function, contributes to the heart’s remodeling process and reduces inflammation,” Hirsch said in a statement. “This translates to durable improvements in quality of life and survival for these patients.

“Patients often fear that early activity and exercise after a heart attack may be detrimental,” the doctor added. “Actually, it is a vital component of recovery that provides substantial benefits.”