Three woman wearing fundraising shirts
Shirley Bates (center) with OHSU Tuality Healthcare Exercise Leaders Cheris Hollis (left) and Karen McCoy (right).

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Shirley’s Story

In January 2018, Shirley Bates had a major health issue that required quadruple bypass heart surgery.  The operation was a success but her road to recovery was far from over. To improve her health, her doctor recommended participating in OHSU Tuality Healthcare’s Cardiac Rehabilitation program.

Shirley was apprehensive. You see she’s not a big fan of going to the gym. To make matters even more challenging, the cardiac rehab team informed her that she would need to complete 36 one-hour sessions. All of it felt a little overwhelming to her.

Yet after only three sessions, Shirley’s attitude changed. She started looking forward to going. Shirley credits the supportive environment created by the Cardiac Rehab exercise leaders, Cheris Hollis and Karen McCoy.

“Cheris and Karen made an effort to get to know me and always interacted in a positive and supportive way,” Shirley said.

There was a special moment Shirley remembers when she casually mentioned her plans to attend a concert that evening. At her next rehab session, she was surprised to hear the music playing by the same artist from the concert. Shirley was deeply touched by this gesture. “They really do care about us. This place is more than a gym, it’s a community.”

Not only did this supportive environment motivate Shirley to prioritize her health, it also inspired her daughter to organize a 5K called New Heart & Sole.

Shirley at the time could barely walk to the sidewalk in front of her house. So completing a 5K seemed nearly impossible. With the help of Karen, Cheris and other patients in the program, this daunting goal became a reality. On August 12, 2018, eight months after major heart surgery, Shirley completed her first 5K.

Not only had Cheris and Karen supported her leading up to the race, they participated in the event with their families.

“I cannot say enough good things about the program. I had many questions and never once was made to feel that they were silly or a waste of time.”

Shirley has completed all 36 sessions and currently is in the maintenance program. She has lost 20 pounds and credits the staff for helping her feel better than she has in a long time.