MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital Celebrating 10 Years of Pulmonary and Cardiac Rehabilitation Services in St. Mary’s County

January 6, 2020

The holidays may be over, but MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital is still celebrating. January marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of the hospital’s Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center.

A special open house will be held Friday, January 10, 2020, to commemorate the occasion and the public is invited to attend the event which will be held from 7:00 a.m., to 9 a.m., and from 3:00 p.m., to 5:00 p.m., The center is located inside the front entrance of the hospital just off the main lobby.

The Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary & Cardiac Rehabilitation Center was opened on Jan. 8, 2010 and was funded by a gift from former ABC News “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel in honor of his wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel. Grace Anne was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in 2001 and was only given a few years to live. Thanks to pulmonary rehabilitation, Grace Anne has lived with and managed her condition for 18 years and has been active as an advocate and spokesperson for COPD ever since.

“When I was diagnosed and given really what I thought was a very short time to live, there was not much hope offered to patients,” said Grace Anne, “but I was fortunate that I did have a script for pulmonary rehab. When I graduated, I realized that I could maintain a good life, I could travel, I could work, I could do all the things I wanted to do, but others didn’t have this opportunity.”

Since the center opened at MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, the Dorney-Koppel Foundation has opened 12 centers in various locations across the country and is working on opening a 13th center this year at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. The Koppels had initially planned to open centers in rural areas but have since discovered that some urban areas lack resources as well.

“We are making an exception for DC because the need is great and there is not one single pulmonary rehab center in the District of Columbia, in our national’s capital,” said Grace Anne. “People from DC have to go to Maryland, and it is outrageous to think there are people who are suffering and who can’t breathe, and are expected to make a trip like that.

“In rural America 8.2 percent of the population is diagnosed with COPD. It is double the rate that it is in metropolitan America and the resources are far fewer in rural America. So rural America is still the area where we can make the most progress because there is the most need. But this really shouldn’t exclude other areas that need our help as well.”