Iredell News

Section: Iredell News


Iredell’s Pulmonary Rehab Program Offers Breath of Fresh Air

For decades, Dan Pardue has taught singers in Iredell County how to control their breathing to make music. Now 50 years into his career as a vocal instructor, Pardue is a student again - learning to live and breathe with a degenerative lung disease.

In 2015 the Statesville resident became the first patient to enter Iredell Health System’s pulmonary rehab program. Through education and exercise, he and dozens of others with lung disorders have been able to maintain their quality of life.

Pardue entered rehab after he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease marked by scarring of the lungs. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, which gets worse over time. Pardue believes rehab has helped to stabilize his condition and given him tools to manage the disease.

“Because I’m a vocal teacher I have worked with breathing all my life, but I learned new things in this class that I never knew,” said Pardue.

The Pulmonary Rehab Center on the campus of Iredell Memorial Hospital helps patients with COPD, asthma, obstructive lung disease and other respiratory issues. It typically includes an 18 week session, beginning with an evaluation and setting goals for each patient.

“Our main goal is for them to do more at home with less shortness of breath and to be more independent,” said exercise specialist Sabrina Melchor. “A lot of them depend on a spouse or someone else in the home to do things like household chores. Just getting them to be more self-sufficient is a big deal.”

Lower respiratory disease is the third leading cause of death in North Carolina, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Programs like Iredell Health System’s pulmonary rehab can help patients improve their odds.

For respiratory therapist Michelle Jones, helping Pardue has been especially rewarding. He gave voice lessons to her sons when they were young.

“I have known Dan for many years and it was tough to see him like that,” said Jones. “He had difficulty taking a few steps. He wasn’t on enough oxygen. We helped adjust his oxygen levels in keeping with his doctor’s orders. Now he exercises for almost 45 minutes to an hour. He doesn’t miss a day if he can help it. He’s consistent and that’s what it takes, consistency.”

Pardue graduated from the rehab program, but he hasn’t stopped working to manage his health. Like others who have completed the program, Pardue comes to the center as often as four days a week for Medically Supervised Exercise Therapy. He is usually there on the treadmill with his oxygen tank – and his wife – by his side.

“The exercise part was so good, when I started the program I asked, ‘can my wife do this?’ So now, we come here together.”

Medically Supervised Exercise Therapy is available to anyone in the community with a prescription from their doctor. Participants can work out under the guidance of the rehab center staff, who can answer questions and monitor health conditions.

Pardue continues to give voice lessons and directs the choir at Statesville’s First ARP church. With help from his doctors and the staff at Iredell’s pulmonary rehab center, he is determined to get the most out of life.

“This is an illness that nobody would want,” said Pardue. “It is limiting but I’m still directing choir. We just had our 80th birthday. I’ve slowed down the way anybody would at that age would I suppose, but I enjoy life a great deal.”

To find out more about pulmonary rehabilitation programs or Medically Supervised Exercise Therapy, call the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center at 704-878-4558.

(Photo: Dan Pardue and his wife Jane at the Cardiopulmonary Rehab Center on the campus of Iredell Memorial Hospital)

Categories: General News