Hospital-based fitness centers in Oklahoma City are seeing more
people these days in quest of better health and longer lives.
Tactics and emphasis may vary from place to place, but the goals
are essentially the same - recovery for the sick and riddance of
destructive habits known to shorten productive lives.
The proffered remedies range from the physician-oriented SCORE
system at St. Anthony Hospital to the prevention and treatment of
athletic injuries at HCA Presbyterian Hospital's Oklahoma Center for
Pacer Fitness Center, operated by Baptist Medical Center, has
recorded phenomenal growth - from 250 members last April to 900 by
the end of the year. At Mercy Health Center, where two dozen or
more cardiac patients have been accommodated, a newly opened
performance center has a capacity to run fitness programs for as
many as 375 people.
In SCORE, an acronym for Specialized Center of Rejuvenation and
Exercise, the intent from the beginning in late 1983 was to limit
enrollment, thus enabling the designers to tailor each program to
fit individual needs and have it supervised by a physician.
In every case, however, an important part of the mission is to
achieve measurable gains in cardiac function. A parallel goal is
the prevention of coronary disease through diet and exercise.
A consistent pattern throughout is a gradual shift from
sedentary to active lives.
Dr. Tom C. Coniglione, who designed SCORE with his colleague,
Dr. Darryl R. Fisher, puts it this way:
"Basically, we take people in when a serious event has occurred.
But we're looking for people before they've had an event - heart
attack, emphysema, or stroke."
SCORE also is a longitudinal program. Entrants get a physical
examination, including laboratory and exercise testing, and undergo
a comprehensive nutritional analysis which measures not only total
caloric intake but such dietary factors as caffeine, B12, niacin and
"It is not a package deal," observes Coniglione. "We do the
baseline evaluation, then design a program for the individual."
After 12 weeks, the procedure is repeated. A physiologist looks
at the changes, then maps a continuing program for the participant.
Don Schneider, director of the Pacer Fitness Center, assesses
the approach there as essentially preventive in scope and geared to
"the maintenance of general health."
"We get people who can't walk for two or three minutes," says
Michele Stokes of the Mercy Fitness Center. "These people do get
back to work sooner; they aren't as afraid; and most end up in
better shape than before."
Stokes, a registered nurse with a master's degree, acknowledges
that heart disease poses the most serious problem, psychologically
as well as physically, and not for the patient alone. Families also
The Mercy program, which began in September 1986, features
telemetry monitoring. Heart rhythm records are forwarded to the
physicians who are caring for the center's patients.
Over time, a growing data base here will yield important
information on the value of local fitness programs from a health
perspective and, possibly, some hard facts as well about the
economic impact. SCORE already employs a computer and Pacer is
preparing to install a system.
St. Anthony's Ron Cunningham, director of administrative
services, makes the point even now that every coronary bypass
procedure that can be deferred or avoided means a minimum saving of
$20,000. The hospital bill alone may reach $15,000 and the
physician's charges could run from $3,000 to $6,000. But continuing
medication costs will add thousands more to the bill.
SCORE's computer exercise reporting system - patients mail the
information in each week - relies heavily on compliance.
Admittedly, said Cunningham, attemps to modify or limit
individual behavior place a strain on the patient's ability or
willingness to comply. …