Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | November 6, 2017

Duke Specialty Rehab Services Midtown Helps Patient Regain Strength

bessie burger2Last spring, Bessie Burger began coming to Duke Specialty Rehab Services Midtown to help recover from sudden and unexplained muscle weakness. Her primary care provider had referred her to Midtown for physical, occupational, and pelvic floor therapy that would help regain her strength and allow her to get back to her life.

Her physical and occupational therapists helped her reach new goals each week, including holding a knife and fork, opening a door, or getting out of a chair – “things we take for granted every day,” Bessie says.

Bessie also received pelvic floor therapy, a new service at Midtown that helps men and women of all ages strengthens the network of muscles in the lower abdomen that support the bladder and female reproductive organs. Pelvic floor therapy uses a combination of manual therapy, pelvic floor muscle exercises, biofeedback, lifestyle modifications, stress management and nutritional education to improve pelvic health.

When people have incontinence, they assume that it must be related to only to their bladder, says Dr. Amie Kawasaki, a urogynecologist with Duke Health. “Often times they neglect to realize that all of those organs are framed within the muscles of the body, including pelvic floor. Physical therapists are familiar with those muscles and therapeutic options for treatment, and they are able to strengthen and increase the function for people and capture that possible source of their issues.”

“All of the providers I worked with challenged me, but I enjoyed coming here,” Bessie says. “My default mechanism is to laugh and make fun of a lot of things, and we all chuckled and put a positive spin on my situation. Everyone I worked with at Midtown was genuinely kind and gentle.”

Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | September 29, 2017

Pulmonary Rehab “Has Changed Everything” for Patient with Chronic Lung Disease

debbie aldridgeBefore she was diagnosed with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) two years ago, Debbie Aldridge was an active mother of two, who enjoyed scuba diving, swimming, water skiing, biking and walking for exercise. PAH results from high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, and the progression of the disease has forced Debbie to use assistive oxygen full-time and limited her physical activity.

“Losing the freedom of mobility was devastating,” Debbie says. “My self-esteem disintegrated and I started to feel worse because I had no way to exercise.”

Debbie heard about the pulmonary rehabilitation program at Duke Specialty Rehab Services Midtown from her doctor at Duke University Hospital, but was convinced to go when someone at her church – who had completed the program – recommended it to her after noticing her cannula (a tube used to deliver oxygen through the nose).

Midtown’s dedicated pulmonary rehabilitation staff work with patients suffering from lung diseases including COPD, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary rehab helps patients overcome shortness of breath and fatigue associated with exercise and daily living activities like climbing stairs. Pulmonary rehab can also help those being considered for a lung transplant meet the waiting list requirements, strengthen them for surgery, and help them recover from the procedure.

“I can go anywhere for a gym; I know how to work out,” Debbie says. “But this is one of the only places I can go for oxygen.”

Debbie needs constant, high-flow oxygen during her workouts to be able to exercise while maintaining a safe blood oxygen level. Midtown’s facility includes exercise equipment and dedicated inhaled oxygen to support patient’s activity and recovery.

Since entering pulmonary rehab, Debbie has successfully completed the initial program and now visits Midtown two days a week to maintain her workout routine. She’s noticed a difference in her strength and endurance, and can walk further than when she began the program.

“Pulmonary rehab has given me my life back,” Debbie says. “It’s changed everything, and I know I will continue to get stronger and stay strong because of this program.”

Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | September 6, 2017

Duke Raleigh Employees Help Build House for Coworker


Until yesterday, Camille Fletcher lived in a cramped apartment in Raleigh with her three kids and her mom. There weren’t enough bedrooms for them all – her mom shared a bunk bed with one of the kids – but the rent was too high to afford something larger.

But Tuesday marked a new chapter for Camille and her family, as they celebrated the dedication of their new home. The new house has enough bedrooms for them all, is energy-efficient, and has a lower mortgage than her previous rent.

For the last two years, since she happened to see an ad on the back of a truck for Habitat for Humanity, Camille has been working to fulfill the requirements of the Habitat program. After a period on the waiting list, she has taken classes to learn home maintenance, finance, and other aspects of homeownership.

“It was exciting to learn all of these new skills and meet new people,” says Camille, a Food and Nutrition Associate at Duke Raleigh Hospital.

Camille also had to put in at least 200 hours of “sweat equity” to help build the house. She wasn’t alone the last few months; her colleagues at Duke Raleigh Hospital pitched in and donated nearly 50 volunteer hours to help build her house. Duke Raleigh Hospital is proud to have partners like Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, who share our common goal of building healthy communities.

Volunteers are a big part of what makes Habitat for Humanity so successful, says Melanie Rankin, Development Director for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. “One of the reasons our homes are so affordable is because they’re primarily built by our volunteers,” she says.

“What better way to demonstrate our commitment to one another than to actually help lay a foundation for a team member?” says Neal Seigler, Director of Environmental and Nutritional Services at Duke Raleigh Hospital. “Working with team members away from the job builds a connection that cannot be established in a controlled environment. I enjoyed this team building endeavor, and teaming up with my employees to support one of our own.”

Camille’s children have also been helping where they can. Her oldest daughter and mom have been helping build the house, and her younger children have been taking weekend DIY classes at Home Depot, making a flower pot and spice rack for the new house.

“It’s the American dream,” Camille says. “It’s a new beginning for my family, and now I can provide them with more stability and a better way of living.”

For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, visit

Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | August 29, 2017

Duke Raleigh Hospital Offering Transition Program for Cancer Survivors

cancer transitionsDuke Raleigh Hospital is recruiting cancer survivors for the Cancer Transitions program, meant to help patients make the transition from active treatment to post-treatment care. This free program will provide participants with tips and resources for healthy eating, relaxation training, stress management and medical management, exercise, and more.

Cancer Transitions is a national program developed by The Wellness Community and the Lance Armstrong Foundation to bridge the gap between cancer treatment and life following cancer. Duke Raleigh Hospital began offering the program in 2016.

Participants will attend four, 2.5 hour wellness workshops this fall, which include a light dinner and instruction from expert panelists including fitness specialists, nutritionists, social workers and oncology clinicians. There is no cost to participants, and all sessions are held at the Duke Raleigh Hospital campus.

Sessions include:

  • Thursday, October 5: Get Back to Wellness: Take Control of Your Survivorship
  • Thursday, October 12: Emotional Health & Well-Being
  • Thursday, October 19: Medical Management Beyond Cancer
  • Thursday, October 26: Nutrition & Healthy Eating

If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please contact Julie McQueen, Oncology Nurse Navigator, at (919) 954-3042 or The registration deadline is September 26.

Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | August 24, 2017

Annual Golf Tournament Raises Money for Duke Raleigh Cancer Center

Julie McQueen_Mitch CupFor the ninth year in a row, Jim Hourigan and Jerry Whalen made a trek to the Duke Raleigh Cancer Center with a check in hand. Every year since 2009, the pair has organized a golf tournament to honor Jerry’s late wife (“Midge”), and donated the proceeds to Duke Raleigh. To date, they have donated approximately $30,000 to help cancer patients like Midge.

Midge was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, and received treatment at Duke Raleigh.

“They were very good to me, my wife, and my family,” Jerry says. “When my children came to visit the staff would let them see their mother at all hours. They really went the extra mile, and I didn’t meet anybody who worked there that wasn’t happy.”

When his wife passed away in 2008, his friends in the Eagle Ridge Community helped him put together a golf tournament in her honor. The first tournament  was small, with only 32 players, but “it just evolved,” Jim says. The tournament has since been extended to two-days, and participation has doubled. The $11,000 they raised this year was donated to the Duke Raleigh Cancer Center and Transitions Hospice.

“We’re proud of it and know the money is going to good use,” Jerry says. “Golf is a wonderful game of camaraderie, and it’s great to see everybody coming together for this cause.”

Thank you to Jim and Jerry, and all the participants in the Midge Cup event, for their generous contributions to Duke Raleigh!

Photo: Jim Hourigan, Cancer Center Navigator Julie McQueen, and Jerry Whalen

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