Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Program Helping Patients Breathe Easier

OLD BRIDGE–After Florence Kroner’s serious bout with pneumonia and extended hospitalization at Raritan Bay Medical Center (RBMC) in Old Bridge six years ago, her breathing was not the same. By 2008, the Manalapan resident had developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and was hospitalized again.

“When I left the hospital I was using an oxygen tank and concentrator to help me breathe, I was told I would need to use the tank at all times and I thought I would never be active again,” said the 77-year old.


Shortness of breath, or the feeling that you cannot get enough air, can be frightening. It can result from a number of different medical conditions, including COPD, and transform even the simplest activities, like walking up a flight of stairs to doing laundry, into monumental challenges. On the bright side, however, it’s also a problem that can be effectively managed in many cases through pulmonary rehabilitation, giving those afflicted renewed independence and a fuller, more active lifestyle.

When Florence was well enough to leave the medical center after her second hospitalization she was referred to Raritan Bay’s pulmonary rehabilitation program. RBMC has been instrumental in helping many patients with a variety of breathing difficulties achieve a better lifestyle after completing their plan of care. “I’m playfully referred to as the ‘miracle patient’ by the staff at Raritan Bay,” said Florence. Through her hard work and perseverance she is now breathing more easily and is much more active than before her hospitalizations. “I only need to use an oxygen tank when I’m sleeping now so I’m able to live my life without fear; in fact, I was able to visit my son and his family in Florida the past two summers,” said Florence.

RBMC’s program is designed to help patients breathe easier by combining exercise to strengthen the lungs and heart, along with education, breathing re-training and psychosocial support. “We provide one-on-one rehabilitation with a respiratory therapist following a plan of care tailored to the patients’ particular needs and goals,” says Dr. Madho Sharma, RBMC’s medical director, division of pulmonology. “The goal for each patient is to improve breathing capacity, endurance, minimize progression of the debilitating symptoms of lung disease and positively impact overall quality of life.”

“My friends and I went on an exciting September Canadian cruise trip, which was my first! I can’t say enough about how wonderfully the staff treated me and how much better I feel. I recommend the program to everyone I meet who has difficulty breathing.”

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