Porter Regional Honors Indiana Patients of the Year

Four patients of the Porter Regional Hospital Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center in Valparaiso were honored Tuesday afternoon during a ceremony crowning the Indiana Society for Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab patients of the year.

Tammy Hawkins and Doug Hughes were named the pulmonary patients of the year and Patty Taylor and Paul Uhrina were named the cardiac patients of the year. It is the first time that all four patients of the year were selected from the same hospital.

Hawkins, Taylor and Uhrina were honored in the north wing of the rehab center on Roosevelt Avenue. Hughes, a recipient of a double lung transplant, was unable to attend.

The honorees were selected from a statewide pool of nominees by the 15-person board of the Indiana Society for Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab, a sister program of the national society.

"We celebrate, every year, patients who put forth that kind of extra effort and really excel at treating their heart disease or their lung disease, are successful with their treatment, are successful with their risk-factor management and all the changes that they have to make," Susan Bauman said, an RN at the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Center and a member of the Indiana Society. "We ask our hospitals from around the state to submit names of patients they feel have filled that role.

"The board of directors selects folks who they feel are deserving of our 'king and queen' of cardiac and pulmonary rehab. We were blessed enough this year that all four of our patients were really outstanding citizens (and) role models. It was really exciting to see that come out of here."

During the program, the honorees were given plastic crowns, framed certificates marking the occasion and care packages. Each honoree was given the chance to say a few words, and refreshments including celebratory cake were served.

Each of the honorees praised the staff at the Rehab Center with helping them through their treatment and rehab.

"I had the perfect blend of a mean doctor and really nice nurses," Taylor said with a laugh.

It was an inspirational and emotional ceremony, touching especially Porter Regional Hospital CEO Steve Lunn.

"I think it's really exciting to see the outcomes and the impact a program like this can have on a community," Lunn said. "To hear the stories directly from the patients is really touching and really kind of invigorates us as healthcare workers to go out there and touch more lives."