For Immediate Release: February 16, 2016

“If I can do it, you can, too.”
Egg Harbor Township woman shares
heart-healthy journey

Rhonda Morgan, of Egg Harbor Township, has a family history of heart disease on both sides of her family. Her father died of a heart attack when she was ten years old. Her maternal grandfather had quadruple bypass surgery after he had a heart attack more than two decades ago. He had a valve replacement in 2017 at the Heart Institute at AtlantiCare Regional Medical. Many of the same AtlantiCare team members who have cared for Morgan’s grandfather have and continue to care for her, too.

Morgan participated in AtlantiCare’s Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program – Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™ at AtlantiCare in 2017. The 9-week outpatient cardiac rehabilitation program is geared toward people who have heart disease and those who have heart disease risk factors, including diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

AtlantiCare had recommended Morgan’s 92-year old grandfather participate in the program after his valve replacement in 2017. “My mother said, ‘You should to it, too,’ ” says Morgan, who will be 48 February 23. “She thought it would be motivation for him to have me with him,” explains Morgan.

Morgan asked her cardiologist, Mohamed H. Elnahal, M.D., AtlantiCare Physician Group Cardiology, if she could benefit from participating, Elnahal, who also cares for Morgan’s grandfather, agreed that it could benefit her.

AtlantiCare Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program participants meet for eighteen four-hour sessions at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. Each session includes information about nutrition, stress management, fitness. The sessions include a healthy lunch, group and individual exercise, support group meeting, and education. AtlantiCare team members, most of whom are at all meetings, include a program medical director, registered dietitian, stress management specialist, exercise physiologist, nurse case manager and group support facilitator. Guest lecturers sometimes attend the group. AtlantiCare holds a quarterly reunion for all participants.

Before Morgan began participating in the program in 2017, she had just started using insulin along with the oral medication she had been using to manage her diabetes. She had started exercising and eating healthier and had lost about 30 pounds. Howard Levite, M.D., and the team at the Heart Institute had placed a stent in Morgan’s heart in 2012. Additionally, Morgan was born with Turner’s syndrome.

“When I first started, I wasn’t sure the nutrition aspect would be something I could do,” she says. “I had never touched tofu or beans. It was new for me. I figured, ‘All you can do is try it.’,” she says. “What was nice was AtlantiCare gave you a lunch during the meetings, so you had a taste of the program.”

“My grandfather made fun of the yoga originally,” says Morgan. “He eventually got into it. If he got stressed, he would use it.”

Since participating in the program, Morgan has lost another 29 pounds. She and her grandfather joined the AtlantiCare LifeCenter under its 60 days for 60 dollars program. They then extended their membership to a full membership. The two exercise regularly together.

Rhonda Morgan does strengthening exercises AtlantiCare LifeCenter low resRhonda Morgan AtlantiCare’s Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program – Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™ at AtlantiCare
exercises regularly at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter, Egg Harbor Township.


Katelyn Hehre Fitness Specialist AtlantiCare. checks Rhonda Morgans BP AtlantiCare LifeCenter low resjpg

Katelyn Hehre, fitness specialist, AtlantiCare’s
Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program – Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™ at AtlantiCare,
checks Rhonda Morgan’s blood pressure as Morgan walks on
the treadmill at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter, Egg Harbor Township.

Morgan’s mother gave Morgan and her grandfather a gift certificate to the LifeCenter for Christmas. Family members gave them both new workout wear. Her mother and other family members also gave Morgan and her grandfather new workout wear. “Everything I had was way too big!” she exclaims.


Working with the Team
“I liked the aspects of everything,” she says of the program. “It was more of a lifestyle change. It helped me to make those lifestyle changes because it showed me the healthy ways to do things. The group support was great because everyone was so helpful with each other. Staff were wonderful. They were caring and supportive and really looked out for us.”

Adapting to the menu
“We are still watching what we are eating and trying to stick as much as we can to the program,” says Morgan. “I eat some meats. I go online to check restaurant menus to make sure I stay with the program.”

Mom contributes to, shares in success
“My mom does most of our cooking, so she tries to stick with the program. She didn’t do the program with us. But she lost weight just by eating the way she was cooking for us,” says Morgan.

“If you have heart issues or diabetes – it definitely works,” says Morgan. “My grandfather went to see Dr. Elnahal just before Christmas and he said my Grandfather could see him in six months rather than three. While I was on the program, my endocrinologist took me off insulin and cut one of my oral meds by half and then by another half. She also cut my cholesterol medicine in half.”

Morgan recently reunited with the AtlantiCare Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation team and served as a guest speaker for the newest program participants. They congratulated her for making healthy lifestyle changes and thanked her for sharing her story. She encouraged participants, “If I can do it, you can, too,” she said.

Rhonda Morgan Reunites with AtlantiCare Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Care Team. low resRhonda Morgan reunited with her AtlantiCare’s Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program – Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™
care team February 8 at the AtlantiCare LifeCenter, Egg Harbor Township.


Rhonda Morgan addresses AtlantiCare Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Participants.4 low resjpgRhonda Morgan, graduate of AtlantiCare’s Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program – Ornish Lifestyle Medicine™,
addresses newest participants of the program. “If I can do it, you can, too, she said.”


For more information about AtlantiCare, call the AtlantiCare Access Center at 1-888-569-1000 or find https://www.facebook.com/AtlantiCare/
Media Contact: 

Jennifer Tornetta, (O) 609-569-7010, (C) 609-335-3446, jennifer.tornetta@atlanticare.org 



AtlantiCare, a member of Geisinger, is an integrated system of services designed to help people achieve optimal health. It includes AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, AtlantiCare Health Engagement, the AtlantiCare Foundation, and AtlantiCare Health Services. Its more than 5,900 employees and more than 900 physicians serve the community in nearly 90 locations. A 2009 Malcolm Baldrige Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work in Healthcare in 2010. ARMC became the 105th hospital in the nation to attain status as a Magnet™ designated hospital in March of 2004 and was redesignated a Magnet™ hospital in 2008 and 2013.

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