WEST CHATHAM — A new cardiology practice opened this week in the heart of West Chatham.
Cape Cod Healthcare announced recently that Dr. Elissa Thompson will be heading a new practice called the Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiovascular Center at the Oppenheim Medical Building at 1629 Main St.
The opening took place last week, and the facility is expected to serve patients from around the Lower Cape. Thompson is no stranger to the region, having practiced since 2016 at the cardiovascular center at the Fontaine Outpatient Center in East Harwich.
“Dr. Thompson graduated from Johns Hopkins University and attended the University of Maryland School of Medicine. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and her fellowship in Cardiovascular Disease at Washington Hospital Center/Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.,” a news announcement reads. “She is certified by the American Board of Cardiovascular Disease and is the Medical Director of the Cape Cod Healthcare Cardiac Rehabilitation Program in Hompson said. “It is an honor to have helped build a superior program that is now ready to expand cardiac services to the most at-risk and under-served.”
Cardiac care has advanced considerably in recent years, she said. One key development is the non-surgical treatment of heart valve problems, which is done via a catheter inserted in the groin. A patient who once needed open-heart surgery now can be discharged with one night’s hospital observation and a Band-Aid, Thompson said.
The new practice in Chatham will include space for other physicians and practitioners from around the region, providing specialized cardiovascular services that used to require trips to the hospital, she said.
Thompson’s real passion is promoting exercise as a preventative measure for cardiovascular health, she said. She spends most of her professional time “taking care of people in diseased states, because of poor nutrition and lack of exercise,” she said.
Thompson directs a unique partnership between Cape Cod Healthcare and the Cape Cod National Seashore known as the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program. Part of a global movement, the initiative aims to promote parks and public lands as a health prevention strategy, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and connecting to nature and the outdoors while stressing the need for environmental sustainability.
Like the rest of the country, Cape Cod is facing an increase of major health problems associated with weight, heart disease, diabetes, childhood obesity and hypertension, officials say. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce obesity, manage diabetes, lower blood pressure and lower risks for heart disease and other chronic disease.
“Our Cape Cod Healthcare team and the National Seashore’s staff stress the benefits of outdoor exercise and appreciation of nature as means to improved health,” the program website reads. When medically appropriate, healthcare providers can even write a “park prescription” advising regular walks at the National Seashore, which is also a venue for other heart-healthy activities like swimming, biking and paddling. More than four million people visit the park annually.
To boost their heart health, people can take part in a nine-week “Couch to 5K” exercise program, with three workouts per week. While the jogging and walking can take place anywhere, the program suggests various appropriate trails around the National Seashore. By the end of the program, participants will not only have explored some of the most scenic parts of the park, but they’ll be ready to take part in the Healthy Parks, Healthy People Ride and Run for Heart Health, scheduled for Sept. 18. Registration information will be posted at www.CapeCodHealth.org/HealthyParks.
“It is a focus of my career to help promote health and well-being through fitness and nutrition,” Thompson said. She said she hopes to create a special walking program in the immediate neighborhood of the Oppenheim Medical Building to help people get moving again confidently and under supervision. There are plenty of great places to walk that are outside the National Seashore, she noted.
“Not everybody lives near the beach,” Thompson said.
In addition to the new cardiology services, outpatient rehabilitation services and lab services are also provided at the Oppenheim Medical Building.
“The addition of cardiology services at the Oppenheim Medical Building in Chatham represents our commitment to increased access to the highest quality care for our community,” Cape Cod Healthcare CEO Michael Lauf said. “We extend our sincere gratitude to the Oppenheim family and others who continue to support our mission to provide the best possible care for our patients on Cape Cod.”