Kreg Tate

“I couldn’t breathe.” Almost 40 years of smoking had finally caught up with Kreg Tate (center). “I was just sitting and suddenly, there was no air,” Kreg remembers. Eventually Kreg quit smoking but was later diagnosed with Stage III COD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). This past December, Kreg began a respiratory therapy program at Ottumwa Regional Health Center. Dr. Sandro Younadam (right) is the program director.

“I definitely went in with a bad attitude,” Kreg says. “I was a real Debbie Downer. I just didn’t think the respiratory therapy would do any good. Boy, was I wrong! Jeff Blegen (exercise physiologist), Leslie Heemsbergen (MSN, nurse educator) and Jamie Kuiken (left), respiratory therapist) are truly remarkable people. They gave me emotional support I needed and taught me coping skills so my breathing doesn’t get out of hand. They made the whole process fun, too. We laughed a lot together.”

Kreg’s therapy also included weightlifting to make his chest muscles stronger as well as nutritional counseling. “When I first started my therapy, I could only walk three to four minutes on the treadmill,” Kreg says. “Now I can do 30 minutes and more. I’d recommend the respiratory therapy program at Ottumwa Regional Health Center to anyone. It changed my life and made me a happier person!”