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Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center Promotes Healthy Lives and Friendships for Patients Through THRIVE Program

Aug. 13, 2013. Do you believe that good things can come out of difficult situations? This was certainly the case for two strangers who faced an uphill road together at the Paul H. Broyhill Wellness Center, a part of the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

During a regular check-up with Dr. Peter Ashline at The Cardiology Center, Christine Behrend, a retired Mental Health Addiction Therapist, was encouraged to participate in the THRIVE program offered through the Wellness Center. Behrend, who enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren, meeting regularly with her book club and hiking, was looking for a way to connect with others and get in shape. Dr. Ashline felt that THRIVE would be beneficial to helping her cope with the lingering health issues caused by consecutive heart attacks in 2005 and 2006. 

Christine Behrend and Pam Meyer
Christine Behrend and Pam Meyer

THRIVE is a medically supervised program that transitions participants from more acute phases of chronic disease management to wellness. The program includes supervised exercise, nutritional counseling, chronic disease education, self management strategies and action planning to meet your wellness goals.

“When I first began THRIVE, I had difficulty with mobility and I feared that I would never be able to go for a hike again,” said Behrend. “However, Katie and the rest of the staff were wonderful and worked diligently to encourage me and slowly increase my strength.”

THRIVE program sessions are offered three days a week, over a three-month period at the Wellness Center in Boone. Measured outcomes and frequent feedback are an essential part of THRIVE that assist participants in transitioning successfully to living a healthier lifestyle.

“The team of exercise physiologists and the cariopulmonary nurse provide each participant with an individualized exercise program,” shared Katie Greene, CSCS-Wellness Center Fitness Instructor. “We closely monitor them to ensure their safety and healthy outcomes.”

During her fourth THRIVE session, Behrend met Pam Meyers, a fellow program participant and retired Watauga County Schools teacher. Meyers, who enjoys singing in her church choir, had enrolled in the THRIVE program as a preventative measure recommended by her cardiologist. Each Sunday as she entered the choir loft, she became short of breath and feared that she might have to give up singing. 

“Meeting Christine was the icing on the cake,” said Meyers. “We quickly became friends and exchanged numbers. The staff encouraged us to develop a supportive friendship beyond THRIVE and it has been wonderful to have a partner through this entire process.”

Behrend added, “It’s a commitment. We keep up with what is going on in each other’s lives and we motivate each other to press on.”

THRIVE offers a common place for individuals struggling with different health problems. The group setting offers accountability from other THRIVE members, as well as encouragement and support. While individuals make advances in their health and wellness, they also build lifelong friendships. 

“Pam and Christine are definitely one of the many success stories that stand out when I think about the accomplishments of THRIVE participants,” said Greene. “They have come such a long way and it is inspiring to see them meet goals that they once considered unreachable. Exercise has become a priority to these ladies and I am excited to see what the future holds.

Behrend, who began the program initially only to be able to complete two minutes on the elliptical exercise machine is now up to twenty minutes and is pleased to share that she still enjoys taking hikes with her grandchildren.

Meyers, who at first struggled when walking up a flight of stairs can now complete twenty minutes on the treadmill without stopping. She is happy to report that she no longer fears the climb into the choir loft. 

THRIVE recently expanded its program by adding an Oncology Track for patients who are currently undergoing cancer treatments. The goal is to reduce the effects of cancer related fatigue for patients.

“We have an excellent THRIVE staff,” said Kris Hartley, CES, CSCS, ACLS-Fitness Supervisor at the Wellness Center. “It is easy to get involved. Simply come by the Wellness Center and fill out a packet. Our team will do the rest.”

After graduating from the THRIVE program, Behrend and Meyers enrolled in a program called Healthy Hearts.

Healthy Hearts is a program geared for participants who have successfully completed Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and/or THRIVE. Offered twice a week at the Wellness Center the program is lead by trained fitness professionals who develop and help participants maintain a customized fitness program. The benefits of the program include group support, heart rate and blood pressure monitoring, aerobic exercise, resistance training and education.

“The confidence level in these ladies has skyrocketed,” shared Greene. “Rarely do you see them working out at the Wellness Center without grinning from ear to ear.”

For more information about THRIVE, Healthy Hearts or the Wellness Center, call 828-266-1060 or visit www.apprhs.org/wellnesscenter.