Striking the Right Chord

Franklin Henry Jr. is not the type of person who likes to ask for help. Yet when his world was reduced to the space between his bed and his chair—and even that small distance made him struggle to catch his breath— he realized he could no longer handle his health problems on his own.

A bass guitarist active in the Ithaca band circuit, Henry had begun smoking as a teenager and had developed a pack-a-day habit. Although he had been operated on for a collapsed lung and had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—a progressive condition that makes it hard to breathe—he could not seem to quit.

Last spring, while facing hip replacement surgery, Henry decided to seek help from the Cayuga Center for Healthy Living, located in the Cayuga Wellness Center in Ithaca’s West End. “We want to help people reach their goals,” says nurse practitioner Marie Harkins, FNPBC.

When Henry visited the center last April, Harkins helped him create a plan to stop smoking and work on his weight-management issues. “We got him started and provided him support so he could make changes in his life,” she says, “and sometimes that’s all people need.” Following his surgery Henry returned to the center for physical therapy to help regain his mobility. Within six months he was tobacco-free, walking two or three times a week, and playing again with his band, NEO Project.

Franklin Henry is among the thousands of residents from the region who have taken advantage of Cayuga Wellness Center programs since the center opened its doors ten years ago. “With our help people like Mr. Henry are making enduring lifestyle changes,” says Kristen Verrill, PT, director of health and human performance at the Cayuga Wellness Center. “Our country has serious health concerns relating to tobacco use, obesity, and lack of exercise. We are here to help people in our community make changes to their lifestyles and make these changes a lifelong habit.”

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