When Loretta Jensen had a health scare at 90 years old, it might have seemed like the end, but it turned out to be just the beginning of a whole new path.
With a firm grip on her walker and tennis shoes on her feet, Loretta Jensen slowly and steadily treads a path up and down a hallway inside Mercy Hospital, Unity Campus.
She smiles a hello to others doing the same.
“How many times do you go?” Loretta asked a passerby as they met midway down the hall.
“As many as I can,” sighed the woman. Then she added,” you do so good. You’re such an inspiration to us all.”
The footsteps are many in the hallway where people come to walk their way to a healthier heart and work out at the hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Fitness Center.
Among them, Loretta Jensen leaves her mark. She shows up each and every week, just as she has for eight years. Loretta first discovered the rehab gym when she suffered a minor heart attack at the early age of 90.
“I couldn't do as much then,” she laughs, “Gradually... I got good!”
Since then she has faithfully put in her workouts three times a week - every week. Loretta turned 98 on Friday. It seems everybody's taking notice.
“I could hardly believe it for one thing,” she said brightly. “And, I don't know, everybody put up such a fuss over me!”
Occupational therapist Pat Kueppers supervises the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Fitness Center where she said Loretta is kind of a big deal.
“She is a sweetheart,” said Pat.
“She is so inspirational to the folks who come because she is just such a pleasure to visit with and just so dedicated to exercise and maintaining her health.”
At 98 years old, Loretta still lives independently. She is in a townhome where her family sees that she still has beautiful gardens to enjoy.
Pat calls Loretta the "poster child" of Unity's rehab gym.
“The lesson is, stay as active as you can, do as much as you can, with your body and your mind,” said Pat.
The program is open to people in the community who have had heart disease or are at a higher risk for heart disease. The purpose is to provide a safe and supervised for patients to work out where help is nearby should it be needed.
For Loretta it’s becomes a community of friends.
“It makes me feel good because I like this place and everybody here is so friendly. And it's just nice and it helps me a lot,” she said.
“I would always come here as long as I can.”
To learn more about the Cardiac Rehabilitation and Fitness Center at Mercy Hospital, Unity Campus call 763-236-3535 or click here.
Jennifer Anderson reporting
May 2, 2018