Father able to walk daughter down the aisle after graduating from cardiopulmonary rehab

In life, few memories are more cherished than the ones formed when a father is able walk his daughter down the aisle for marriage. The custom, which symbolizes a lifetime of love, support and blessing between a doting dad and his little girl, makes for an emotional and highly anticipated day. This day seemed to be at hand for Dick Sloop, 66, of Wilkesboro when his daughter Maggie got engaged last fall.

Dick Sloop walks daughter Maggie down the aisle on her wedding day.

Dick Sloop walks daughter Maggie down the aisle on her wedding day.

As expected, Maggie, with her mother at her side, instantly sprung into wedding planning mode. Sloop joked afterward that his opinion mattered little when it came to decorating but his assistance was requested when it was time to pay the bill.

The fairy tale wedding preparations were well underway when tragedy struck early in the summer. After doing some yard work, Sloop complained to his wife, Sherry, of a pain in his chest and arm. Fearing the worst, Sherry raced her husband to the Emergency Room where it was determined that he had suffered a heart attack.

“It was pretty scary and unexpected,” said the retired serviceman who prides himself on staying in good shape. “After my successful surgery, I was cleared to go home but I was unable to function like normal.”

Hindered by his weakened heart condition, Sloop worried that he would be unable to escort his daughter on her wedding day. Disappointed by the timing and severity of the situation, he was pleased to learn from his doctor that there is an excellent cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program located in Boone.

Hopeful to return to full strength in time for the wedding he enrolled in the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program (ACRP) offered at The Wellness Center in Boone. ACRP is a collaborative effort between Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian State University’s Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science. The 12-week, 36-session program is designed to utilize exercise, nutrition, and clinical support to help its participants achieve their highest level of functionality while improving their quality of life.

Dick Sloop with the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Team.

Dick Sloop with the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Team.

During his first session, Sloop was greeted by the ACRP team which consists of Exercise Physiologist and Appalachian State University professor, Dr. Jeff Soukup, an on-site physician, a respiratory therapist, a registered nurse, a registered dietitian and a handful of Dr. Soukup’s graduate assistants.

“I was blown away to see how many medical staff would be taking care of me,” said Sloop. “I told them that I viewed my heart attack as a one day unfortunate event. And, since I was able to live through it, I was not going to allow it to ruin the rest of my life.”

After conducting a Metabolic Exercise Study to determine his fitness capability and anaerobic threshold, the team constructed a unique upper and lower body exercise program for their patient. Throughout the entire course, the staff closely monitored and documented his day-to-day progress as he engaged the treadmill, recumbent bike and NuStep machine.

In addition, the programs registered dietitian assessed his eating habits and recommended, when necessary, some healthy alternatives. After only a few sessions, Sloop noticed a significant improvement in his ability to perform basic exercises without complication. A feat he had been unable to accomplish just a few days prior.

“He was stellar,” said Kathleen Collins, RN, who monitored his progress from the beginning. “He always had a good attitude and he wanted to improve. Having a goal to work for (his daughter’s wedding) served as a good motivator, too.”

Perhaps no one was more pleased with his steady progress than Maggie. When August rolled around she was elated to find that her father was healthy enough to still deliver her in marriage.

“As a girl, you dream about that moment,” said Maggie with a grin. “I will always remember how hard my dad worked in rehab to be at my side on the biggest day of my life.”

For more information about the Appalachian Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program offered in both Boone and Linville, call 828-268-9043 or visit www.apprhs.org/cardiac-rehab.

Interactive Heart Featured at 3rd Annual Heart Shape Event on February 7

February is heart month and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) is proud to sponsor its 3rd Annual Heart Shape event on Saturday, February 7, from 8 am – 12:45 pm at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, located at 232 Boone Heights Drive in Boone.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature health screenings, a large, interactive heart, cardiology Health Talks, free fitness classes, Wellness Center tours and healthy cooking demonstration.

Health Screenings
Heart Shape will feature a variety of free screenings including, but not limited to: a Cardiology Risk Assessment, a Breathing Assessment and an Epworth Sleepiness Test. Vouchers for a Pocket EKG screening ($20), a cholesterol screening ($30) and a vascular screening ($20) will also be available for purchase at exclusive Heart Shape rates.

The first 10 people to sign-up for a Pocket EKG screening will receive a free voucher for the screening. Staff will be on hand during the event to provide more information about each screening. The vascular screening will be held February 24th at Watauga Medical Center.

Large Interactive Heart Display
In honor of this third anniversary, Heart Shape will feature a large, interactive, anatomically correct heart, 12 feet high by 16 feet wide and 13 feet long. This larger than life display will provide an intimate look at the heart valves and chambers, how blood flows through the heart, plaque buildup, heart disease and more!

Cardiology and Vascular Health Talks
The two-part Health Talk series will begin with a talk entitled “Cardiac Disease Q&A” by Cardiologist, Dr. Paul Vignola at 11 am in the Wellness Center Classroom. The second talk, entitled “Peripheral Artery Disease” by Vascular Surgeon, Dr. Peter Purcell will be given at 11:30 am. Both talks will feature prize drawings and an opportunity to ask questions.

Wellness Center Classes, Tours and Fitness Professionals
If you’re not already a member of the Wellness Center, Heart Shape is a great opportunity to check out the facility and excellent fitness professionals. Pending availability, participants can take advantage of free fitness classes, get tours of the facility and talk with fitness professionals about your individual fitness goals. The class schedule includes Spin and Zumba at 9:15 am, followed by Yoga, Stretch and Flex and Water Fitness at 10:15 am. All event participants will have access to use the locker rooms as needed throughout the day.

Healthy Cooking Demonstration
Heart Shape will conclude with a healthy cooking demonstration consisting of turkey chili, cheddar and chive biscuits and carrot cake offered at 12:15 pm.

To learn more about Heart Shape visit wellness.apprhs.org or call the Wellness Center at 828-266-1060.

Safety First with Winter Sports

skiier We are lucky to live in an area that is the perfect setting for enjoying winter sports. Not only are there great ski slopes and tubing opportunities around, at Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain, Hawksnest and Sugar Mountain ski resorts, but there are also plenty of days perfect for sledding, hiking through the snowy woods and even cross-country skiing.

Staying active, especially in the fresh air and sunshine of the outdoors, is a great way to stay healthy and improve your mood. Winter sports are fun, but like any activity, accidents can happen at any time. There’s a reason why January is designated as Winter Sports Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month by the Johnny O. Foundation. Skiing and sledding at high speeds can lead to dangerous falls. It’s better to be safe than sorry! Here are a few tips to help keep you safe while you’re out enjoying the beauty our winter has to offer.Sledding

  •  Dress in layers. A moisture wicking material against your skin will help keep you dry, while you want to have wind and water-resistant coats or jackets for your outer layer.
  • Wear sunscreen. It’s not only in the summer that you can get a sunburn, those rays are bright when reflected off the white snow!
  • Wear a helmet. Some ski resorts have made it a rule, but it’s a good precaution whether you’re skiing, snowboarding or even sledding.
  • Skate only on approved ice.
  • When sledding, make sure you’re sledding on packed snow, not ice. And only use sleds that were meant to be sleds, no garbage pail lids!
  • In addition to a helmet, make sure you have the right equipment for your sport, and that it fits properly.
  • Always go with a buddy. That way if something does happen, you have someone who can go for help.

The Rehabilitation Center, with locations in Boone and Linville, have specially trained physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists that can evaluate and treat injuries resulting from winter sports including concussions, sprains, strains, poor balance and coordination, fractures, speech impairments, memory loss and other problems.  For more information, call (828) 268-9043 or (828) 737-7530 or visit www.apprhs.org/trc.

Helping Deliver Healthy Babies

BabyHaving a baby can be one of the most wonderful times of your life. Welcoming a new little person into the world is a magical experience, and at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System we try to provide the perfect environment for your birth experience. Of course, having the baby is just a small piece of the puzzle. Helping moms have healthy pregnancies is an important goal of all of our physicians and medical staff. One way we do that is through qualified prenatal care. But not everything can be done in the doctor’s office. Much of what is necessary for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby is dependent on you, the mom.

Did you know that 1 in 33 children in the United States are born with a birth defect each year? Some of these are genetic, but some are preventable. January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, and it includes Folic Acid Awareness Week (January 4-10) to raise awareness of the importance of diet, exercise and proper prenatal care in having healthy babies.

Folic acid is important enough to have its own week because of the impact it plays in preventing birth defects. Getting the recommended daily amount of folic acid can prevent 50 to 70 percent of neural tube defects, including spina bifida and anencephaly.

It is recommended that all women of child-bearing years get at least 400 mg of folic acid a day. Folic acid is found in foods such as spinach, black beans and orange juice; fortified foods such as grains, pastas and cereals; and many multivitamins.

There are other steps you can take to help prevent birth defects. These include:

  • Avoiding alcohol. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders.
  • Avoiding cigarettes and illegal drugs, which among other things can lead to low birth weight.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Keep diabetes under control.
  • Keep regular doctor visits. Those monthly, and eventually weekly, visits are important for monitoring blood pressure and other vital signs throughout a pregnancy. The more knowledge a doctor or midwife has of your medical history prior to labor and delivery, the smoother the whole process will go.

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, contact your doctor to be sure you are doing everything you can to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. For more information, contact Melonie Formwalt, Birthing Center Outreach & Education Coordinator at (828) 262-4285.


Healthcare System Requests Voluntary Visitation Restrictions

December 29, 2014 – Appalachian Regional Healthcare System asks that anyone sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms voluntarily refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends, as well as those persons at the hospital for an outpatient procedure. It is also important that during this time of increased flu and flu-like illness in our area, visitors 12 and under should refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends.

Taking temperatureAccording to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity is on the rise in the U.S. with all 50 states reporting sporadic to widespread illness. North Carolina is reporting widespread illness.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s hospital emergency rooms, along with the physician offices and AppUrgent Care, have seen an increase in the number of people presenting with influenza-like illness.

“Patients are very vulnerable while in the hospital, so we are appealing to those community members who may be ill with the flu, or exposed to the flu, to refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends in order to help us protect the patients in our facilities,” stated Dr. Herman Godwin, Chief Medical Officer for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “Our top priority is to take every appropriate precaution to keep our patients safe.”

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes an individual may catch flu by touching an object infected with the virus and then touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. There are several things you can do to prevent catching or spreading the flu: Protect yourself, your family and your community

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands.
  • If you get sick with flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from making them sick.
  • Get the recommended seasonal flu vaccine.


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Most people recover from flu after about a week without lasting effects.

Seek emergency medical care if you or a family member has any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and worsening cough
  • In babies, bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritation

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working diligently to prevent the spread of flu and appreciates any assistance the public can provide. For more information about the flu, visit www.flu.gov or www.cdc.gov/flu.