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COPD Rehabilitation Center Opens In Cabin Creek

Reported by: Send eMail Katy Brown
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Nov. 2, 2013 9:50 PM EDT
Updated: Nov. 3, 2013 11:33 PM EST

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COPD Rehabilitation Center
Eyewitness News Photo

Cabin Creek , Kanawha County , West Virginia

The fight against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease begins in West Virginia with the opening of a new rehabilitation center.

Dozens gathered in Cabin Creek Saturday for the grand opening of the Grace Anne Dorney Pulmonary Rehabilation Center at Cabin Creek Health Systems.

It's a new program that will help people in West Virginia who suffer from COPD.

“It's more important to the state of West Virginia than any other state in the country,”

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said. “We have 64,000 people that have this, and 45 percent of those who may have it don't report it. It's the third largest killer of people in America."

COPD makes it hard for the person to breathe properly, many times not allowing them to exercise or even live a normal life.

And behind heart disease and cancer, COPD is America's third largest killer.

West Virginia is 58 percent higher than the national average when it comes to deaths caused by COPD, and many of those with the disease are coal miners, a reason why United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts is thankful for the new program.

“I was a coal miner before I was the president of the union,” Roberts said. “I could have just as easily been a coal miner right now, and here hoping somebody was doing something like this for me."

The Dorney rehab center is not only in Cabin Creek, but also at the New River Health Association in Fayette county and at Boone Memorial Hospital in Boone County.

The goal is to improve the quality of life.

"Making people better, taking people out of pain and keeping people from pain,” Rockefeller said. “We're really good at that, because we're really good people."

The program is expected to help at least 60 patients in its first year, and, hopefully, double that number the following year.

The project would not have been possible without the help of journalist and former "Nightline" host Ted Koppel and his wife, Grace Anne Dorney.

Dorney was diagnosed with COPD in 2001. She was given just a few years to live after being diagnosed.

After Koppel's wife enrolled into a pulmonary rehabilitation program, she has passed that time frame and is now a 13-year COPD survivor.

And to help others in the same situation, Koppel and Dorney created a foundation which pays for rehabilitation centers across the country, much like the one now open in Cabin Creek.

"Perhaps as many as 25 million Americans who have COPD and half of them don't know it,” Koppel said. “There's a great need for education. There's a great need for research. There's a great need to help these people out."

For more information on the center, visit the Cabin Creek Health Systems website

Eyewitness News will have more on Sunday about Koppel and his wife Grace's role in helping West Virginians fight COPD.



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