Published on August 08, 2021


Nash UNC Health Care’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation clinic launched its peripheral artery disease (PAD) program on March 8 of this year.

While Christine Spearman wasn’t the program’s first patient, she was the first to graduate the program.

Dr. Ruihai Zhou, a UNC School of Medicine cardiologist who practices at Nash UNC, worked with Spearman during her time in the PAD program. Patients like Spearman who suffer from PAD experience the disease in their lower extremities, which can cause a wide variety of complications if left untreated, including wounds that don’t heal, poor quality of life, and the increased risk of losing limbs.

The PAD program minimizes those risks and improves a patient’s quality of life. While in the program, patients participate in supervised exercise treatments and are encouraged to adopt lifestyle changes specific to their personal health needs.

“Studies have shown that exercise therapy can increase new blood vessel growth, increase blood flow to the legs, and improve muscle architecture, metabolism, and strength. The patients benefit greatly from attending the program,” said Dr. Zhou. Spearman agrees the program is beneficial and credits it for turning her health around.

“The program gave me motivation to take care of myself. Before the program, I didn’t really have a full understanding of my condition or how to best care for myself, but the team really explained everything to me,” said Spearman. “Having a program like this in Rocky Mount is great. This program made me really want to start exercising for my health,” she added.

And while Spearman says the program has helped her tremendously, she also credits the entire Nash UNC cardiopulmonary rehab staff for
improving her health.

“The entire staff was wonderful and they all helped me so much. I did have a special connection with nurse Beth Langley. She was so
understanding. I am about to cry just thinking about her because she is so sweet. Whenever I had a question about anything she would never hesitate to answer me and talk to me about it, and that made me feel good,” said Spearman.

Spearman isn’t the only patient who has experienced Langley’s excellent care. Langley is known for going above and beyond for all of her patients because she genuinely loves what she does. “I have a passion for helping others learn how to better care for themselves and live a healthier life. It is such a joy and blessing to know I made a difference in Ms. Spearman’s life. I love what I do here at Nash UNC to help make
our community healthier,” she explained.

Exercise specialist Nathyn Frantz echoed Langley’s sentiments.

“This is a great opportunity to serve this community,” he said. “We have a great staff here. We all work together really well. Patients say they enjoy the community here and the energy we have and it feels good to be a part of that,” he explained.

The new PAD program is made possible through Nash UNC’s partnership with UNC Health.

Though Nash UNC is locally owned and managed, the hospital maintains a partnership with UNC Health that ensures cutting edge treatments, programs, and the latest technology are available in the Twin Counties.

“Having a PAD program here for our community is phenomenal. That way, patients don’t have to drive a long distance to get that type of care and knowledge elsewhere,” said Bahja Hinton, exercise specialist at Nash UNC.

Dr. Zhou agreed with Hinton’s thoughts on the program.

“Our supervised exercise therapy and rehabilitation is the only program like that in this area, so it is great that many patients now have access to a PAD rehabilitation program locally,” he said.

The newest exercise specialist on the team, Lindsey Corbett, says she is proud to be part of a team and program that serves the community so well.

“One reason I chose to work here is because of this program and this team. You can tell that everyone here loves their patients and wants to make sure they are set up to be successful both during the program and after they graduate.”