A Tribute to Joplin’s St. John’s Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation

The Joplin tornado of May 22, 2011 brought to an end my regular trips to pulmonary rehab on the ninth floor of Joplin’s St John’s Hospital. I began attending this pulmonary rehab on August 12, 2000 and have continued three times a week through May 21, 2011, the day before the destructive tornado. I did have a break of six months while I was in St. Louis attending rehab at Barnes Jewish Hospital where I had a double lung transplant on June 15, 2004.


I had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly disease, which has no known cause and no known cure. A lung transplant is the only way to survive this disease. Exercising at St. John’s pulmonary rehab contributed greatly to my surviving long enough to receive a lung transplant. Since returning home in October, 2004, I have faithfully continued my exercise program at St. John’s. This program has been a major player in enabling me to maintain relative good health in these seven years since my transplant.


I want to express my appreciation to the respiratory therapists, Christine Barnes, director, and her assistant, Tina Williams, and other therapists. They have conducted themselves in a professional yet personal manner. They are competent, friendly, and encouraging. Over the last almost eleven years I have seen many people greatly improved by participating in pulmonary rehab.


St. John’s Pulmonary Rehab has made a significant contribution to my life and I am grateful. I do not know what the future holds for St. John’s. I did not want to lose the well-being I have gained so I wanted to continue in an exercise program. On June 6, 2011, I will begin physical therapy for my pulmonary health at McCune Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Missouri. After one week I was dismissed from the program because McCune Brooks does not provide maintenance. As of June 23, 2011 I am going to pulmonary rehab at Via Christi Health in Pittsburg, Kansas.

The Value of Regular Exercise

I do not write to lay a guilt trip on anyone, but I warn you this is a commercial. I speak not as a paid salesman but as a satisfied customer. My testimony is that regular exercise has paid significant benefits in my life.

This August 12, 2010, marks ten years of exercising three times a week at Pulmonary Rehabilitation at St. John’s Regional Medical Center. Because it is a priority to me I seldom miss. This exercise program has made a vital contribution in extending and enriching my life.

In 2000 doctors diagnosed me with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal lung disease. Regular exercise contributed to my being able to live long enough to receive a double lung transplant in 2004. My doctors told me that good muscle tone in my body would make the transplant more successful and enable my body to more efficiently utilize the oxygen it receives. Not only did exercise help me live long enough to receive new lungs, it has contributed to my generally strong health these past six years.

Medicine can only do so much. Exercise is something we can do for ourselves. Barbara, my wife, had breast cancer five years ago. She underwent surgery and chemo therapy. She has chosen to work on eating healthy and walking regularly as her approach to try to prevent reoccurrence. She walks two miles four or five times a week. I did not walk as a part of my regular exercise routine taking about an hour. But Barbara convinced me to add thirty minutes of walking and do it on the days I didn’t go to rehab.

The benefits of exercise to physical health does not tell the whole story. Barbara and I thank God that we have been able to continue to have a part in our children and grandchildren’s lives. Though retired we are happy to be serving God and others.