CHIPLEY - Keeping community needs in mind, Northwest Florida Community Hospital is celebrating a new cardiac rehabilitation program and the anniversary of its swing bed program.

The cardiac rehabilitation program, which began September last year and is housed at the Chipley Wellness Center, offers routines specifically tailored for patients and their needs. The outpatient program has about 50 referrals in process. Insurance covers several costs associated with the program, staff said.

Making the patients feel at home and pushing them to do their best are two of the main goals of the program, according to Director Jennifer Rydberg.

On a monitor in real time, Rydberg looks at heart rate and mobility to ensure that a patient is meeting his or her goals, offering a graduation tailored to patient needs and interest.

The future goal of the program is to "continue growing and continue to help the community," Rydberg said. 

While heralding a new program, NFCH is celebrating the 24th anniversary of its swing bed program. It is for patients that need therapy or additional recovery time after an acute illness or surgery. The program provides care for 125 patients annually.

Gary Hartman, a local commercial property realtor, is a patient in the program.

"It was the best decision that I made in a very long time," Hartman said, who also touted the locality and community-mindedness as reasons he has continued inpatient care at NFCH. "I have had an excellent experience from the moment I walked in."

An attentive staff allowed Hartman comfort while still challenging him. Hartman, who is also a patient of the new cardiac rehab program, also advised that the staff has the "expertise and desire to be helpful to help any patient." 

The program also provides speech, occupational, and physical therapy.

"It is vital to the hospital to be able to provide these services and vital to the community to be accessible… and [patients] often do better when closer to home, friends, and family," said Case Manager Stephanie Gustason.

Patients can qualify for the program through insurance approval, she noted. 

While the goal of the program is to prepare patients for day to day living after surgeries or illnesses, the program offers more than just therapy, said Physical Therapist Kacie Duvall.

"It's knowing what motivates a patient," she said.

For more information about the cardiac rehabilitation and swing bed programs at Northwest Florida Community Hospital, go online to