August 15, 2022


Slick Healthy

Your 2022 Health Heroes –

The story below is a preview from our July/August 2022 issue. For more stories like it, Subscribe Today. Thank you! 

We asked readers to share their stories on the health professionals who changed their lives.

No matter the year, no matter the situation, it’s clear that our community wouldn’t be where it is today without its health heroes.

From doctors, nurses and surgeons to holistic practitioners, massage therapists and veterinarians, their care for our entire family should never go unnoticed. We are so appreciative of their work and commitment to our region, which is why we love sharing these special stories from our readers on the following pages.

Our readers submitted their health hero stories in the months of March and April during our nomination process. Over 70 entries include nurses, family physicians, cardiologists, elder care and many more.

Thank you to our readers for sharing your health hero stories. We’re grateful for your time, and for sharing experiences that wouldn’t have had the same outcome without the heroes in your stories.

Nominees are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Some nominators chose to remain anonymous. Quotes from nominators have been edited for grammar and spacing, but are otherwise as submitted.

Owusu Asamoah, MD

LewisGale Physicians

Nominated for Cardiologist by Anonymous

“Foremost he is a great listener. He cares and I can believe what he says. I left my [former] provider as he stopped listening and gave too many meds.”

Linda Bailey

Total You Health

Nominated for Female Health Hero by Eunice Morrison

“In February 2013, I had a kidney transplant. In August 2018, I contracted shingles. I had never had a shingles shot and was not able to take the medicine that was used to combat shingles in fear that it would have an adverse reaction to the daily medicine I take for my kidney. Then in September 2021, my niece told me about Red Light Therapy. She had met Linda Bailey who owns Total You Health and had heard how Red Light Therapy had helped others who suffered from chronic pain. My niece told me that I really needed to go see Linda. I didn’t want to go; however, after suffering from severe pain brought on by shingles for the past three years, and being confined to my bed for the majority of those three years, I was beyond ready to try something new. After my first visit with Linda, I knew I had made the right decision. Linda is so sweet and personable and makes you feel so comfortable. Her entire team is great. After just a few visits with Linda, I could notice the change in how I was walking and how the pain had lessened. I have started going out more and can honestly say I’m no longer confined to my bed. I highly recommend to anyone who is suffering from chronic pain to contact Linda and give Red Light Therapy a try.”

William F. Ball, MD

Roanoke Family Medicine

Nominated for Family Medicine by Betty Lou Fox

“Dr. Ball has been our family doctor for 25+ years. I trust him with my life and that of my family. He’s not the easiest to get an appointment with, yet I know that if I really need him, he will return our call and get us in as soon as possible. He will give us advice or refer us to specialists that he’d give to his own parents and family. The best words I’d use to describe Dr. Ball are trustworthy, honest and a patient advocate. I’d highly recommend him. He’s the best!”

Suzanne Bowser, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Carilion Clinic

Nominated for Educator by Nancy Bowser

“Suzanne received her RN, BS in 2000 and has been working full time since then. In the meantime, she married, had two children and obtained her MS [while] working full-time. In the past two years, she obtained her Doctorate and continues to be dedicated to her family and patients. I know, firsthand, because I am her mother-in-law and was a cardiac patient on her floor. She is very knowledgeable as well as caring. She is trusted with patients’ care on a daily basis and is well thought of by physicians.”

Jessica Brim, NP

Valley Care, LLC

Nominated for Family Medicine by Betsy Baker

“Jessica Brim is a wonderful provider. She originally practiced with Dr. Larry Monahan, who unfortunately passed away from COVID-19. Brim, in a year’s time, has set up her own thriving private practice in Salem and is still down to earth and a good, thorough practitioner. She is always looking for innovative solutions to medical needs and is doing this all while raising a preschooler on her own. She is a US Veteran and I can’t imagine having anyone else as my primary care provider.”

Kim Buff, ARNP, FNP-C


Nominated for Nursing by Anonymous

“Kimmie Buff is amazing and is well deserved of a raise! You all are blessed to have her on your team; she always has a smile on her face no matter what’s going on. Kimmie Buff is a blessing to everyone she treats, thank you Kimmie for all you do.”

Luz Carr, APRN

ProMedica/Heartland Hospice

Nominated for Hospice Care by Traci Nagy

“As a hospice RN Case Manager, I work very closely with Carr to make sure our patients’ needs are met. I’ve been in nursing 39 years and I’ve never met anyone with the ability to care for, assess, teach and comfort … all at the same time. Having worked herself through the ranks from a nursing assistant to a nurse practitioner, she has intimate knowledge of the day-to-day struggles our caregivers and families are facing. No matter how busy she is, she makes time to reach out to me to check on a patient she’s concerned about. She is a joy to do visits with, as she loves to impart her knowledge with the case managers, and this case manager is a willing sponge. I’ve observed her laugh and exchange bear hugs with patients … but more importantly, I’ve had the honor to be in her presence when she cried. She’s the cream that rose to the top of her profession but never forgot her roots. She’s an amazing example of nursing at its finest. … and someone who I’m so deeply proud of standing beside … knowing my patients … our patients are getting the best care possible. In the end … that’s all that really matters.”

Nell Carr-Young, L. Ac.

Bluebird Acupuncture, Inc.

Nominated for Holistic Health/Natural Healing by Anonymous

“Nell brings so much knowledge, skill, experience, care and insight to her work, that I have always felt better physically, mentally and emotionally after my appointments! Which is amazing to me! She is generous and kind with her knowledge, and skilled with communicating and adapting so I understand and am set up to continue to improve. Having been through decades of health challenges I was jaded, losing my will to continue to try to find help, hopeless that I might enjoy life. Thanks to Carr-Young, my body and brain are working better, so I feel hope again.”

Keel Coleman, DO

Carilion New River Valley Medical Center Emergency Room

Nominated for ER Services by Lindsay McKinnon

“Helping close family friends through the attempted suicide of their daughter, I reached out to Dr. Coleman and let him know to expect us coming through the doors of the ER. He carefully and thoroughly explained what to expect and what not to expect inside of COVID practices and overflowing hospital beds statewide. His professionalism and bedside manner were impeccable and he immediately gained the trust of my friend, his patient. He saved a life that night; he followed up with me on how she was doing and now she is about to graduate from veterinary school and live the life she was always meant to live! God bless Keel for catching us and shepherding us through scary traumatic attempts and providing a new path to healing.”

Meredith Collins

Crystal’s Healing Hands

Nominated for Massage Therapist by Liz Long

“After two years of working from home on a laptop and phone, my spine finally had enough, and neck muscle pain became a huge problem for me. After nearly a month of putting up with it, I found Meredith at Crystal’s Healing Hands. Six weeks and three appointments later, I feel like my old self. I can move my head in every direction without pain, no longer need pain relief medication and am back to my regular workouts without fear of injury. Collins is a total sweetheart and has an absolutely magical touch. She helped adjust my spine and muscles, and I now see her work as preventative—plus, it’s a great ‘treat myself’ massage every time! I am incredibly grateful to her for easing my pain and giving me back the ability to move without issue. She’s definitely a health hero to me!”

Jessi Cordle

Keagy Village Veterinary Hospital

Nominated for Veterinarian by Gretchen Lewis

“Jessi Cordle is one of a kind. Caring, compassionate and loving. She cares for your babies as if they were her own. There is nothing she cannot do. She has the best attitude with a smile on her face always! She takes care of everything and everyone despite facing challenges herself but you’ll never hear her complain. Once you meet her you will understand why I am nominating her. She’s treated all my baby boys (Braedon, Marley and Lil Bit). She’s the best around and you will never find anyone more dedicated than she is.”

David Cummings, DO

Southwest Medical Clinic

Nominated for Family Medicine by Barry Light

“I’ve been going to Dr. Cummings for 37 years and he has always treated me with the utmost respect and with professionalism. I can remember when I was in the hospital recovering from a stroke in 2015, how I would wake up around 6 AM to find him at my bedside checking to see how I was doing. I know that’s part of his job, but I really appreciated him being there and following through to determine the cause of the stroke.”

Debbie Custer

The Hemp Mill

Nominated for Holistic Health/Natural Healing by Anonymous

“Ms. Custer has been educating Southwest Virginia about hemp and cannabis beginning in 2018. She is a national leader in the hemp industry educating on hemp nutrition and bioavailability of cannabinoids focusing on improving the immune system. In 2019, following the legislation on medical cannabis in the state, Custer hired and trained nurse practitioners to facilitate the assessment and certification process for those seeking to use medical cannabis instead of opioids and pharmaceuticals. She has dedicated her time to educating community leaders, the medical field and politicians on the cannabis plant and how to utilize plant based medicine and nutrition for a better lifestyle. In 2018, Custer opened a retail space in Vinton, once again educating the area leaders regarding the attributes of hemp for nutrition and health. In late 2019, she spoke at a seminar for regional economic developers to help them understand how investment in the cannabis industry would drive growth in Southwest Virginia. A healthier community will lead to prosperity, as proven in other countries. Custer is passionate about educating for a healthier community. During the pandemic, Custer focused on development of hemp foods, knowing that a good diet is the key to fighting viruses. Making her community healthier is her goal, and she is doing this with healthy food choices and healthy medical choices. She is a Health Hero in every sense of the word.”

Todd Dehli, MD

Family Centra – Village

Nominated for Family Medicine by Anonymous

“Dr. Dehli is my hero. He is personable, compassionate and cheerful. He listens sincerely and gives the impression he has all the time in the world for the patient he is with although I know his time is precious and his schedule is packed. He asks about the patient and shows he is familiar with the reason the patient made the appointment, but also past complaints, procedures and tests. He communicates his reasons for diagnoses, tests, procedures or follow-ups clearly and makes time to answer questions. I will be bereft when he retires.”

Larry Dennis, MD

Carilion Clinic Maternal Fetal Medicine

Nominated for Maternal Fetal Medicine by Sara Stultz

“There were many heroes who helped me through my most recent pregnancy, but Dr. Dennis was my big ‘behind the scenes’ hero. When I was pregnant with my first child, everything went fine. Unfortunately, that was not the case with my most recent pregnancy. It was determined that I was in a high-risk pregnancy and there were many times that it was highly possible that I wasn’t going to have a baby at the outcome. Dr. Dennis helped guide me through one of the most difficult times of my life, giving me honest feedback and helping me to make the best decisions with the information we had at the time. He even made me smile and laugh when I came to see him, despite having to work through some very difficult conversations. My miracle baby came about seven weeks early and spent two and a half weeks in the NICU, but he is healthy and happy. Any woman who has experienced a high-risk pregnancy can attest that it is not easy and you feel so helpless. You could be doing everything right and there are things that happen that are out of your control. I realize that during his career, who knows how many women and babies, like me, he has helped, so for this reason and all the reasons above I am nominating Dr. Dennis. Thank you Dr. Dennis, for helping so many women and babies and being a part of saving my miracle baby.”

Lisa Deyerle, MD

LewisGale Physicians Cave Spring Family Medicine

Nominated for Family Medicine by Casey Anderson

“Dr. Deyerle has been my GP for years now. She has been wonderful. Her empathy and quality of care are outstanding. I have no hesitation in referring her to anyone.”

Nominated for Family Medicine by Anonymous

“Dr. Deyerle has been my primary physician for years. She takes her time with me. She is very thorough and compassionate. Not only is she concerned with my physical health but my mental health. We have always been able to communicate well with one another. She knows I am widowed and live alone. Her staff is always professional.”

Sarah Evans, MD

Carilion Clinic Urogynecology

Nominated for Urogynecology by Suzi Findley

“Dr. Evans is my hero. When I was in Las Vegas and had to go to the ER at a local hospital, she kept up on my situation while I was in Las Vegas and advised me of what to do. She opened her office for me the minute I stepped off the plane so she could examine me. Dr. Evans gave me all possible options for my situation and for me to choose the plan to help. Dr. Evans did my surgery and had to call a specialist when she found a foreign mass at the time. She kept my spouse informed of her discovery during surgery. If I didn’t have surgery, the mass would not have been found. I haven’t felt so good and healthy in the past three years.”

Patrice Freeman

Wonderful Land of Oils

Nominated for Holistic Health/Natural Healing by Shiree Carr

“I met Patrice Freeman of Wonderful Land of Oils at a FemCity meeting. She spoke briefly about essential oils and how they can help in all kinds of ailments. Me being someone who shies away from taking any medicine, I was interested and set up a one-on-one meeting with Patrice. Patrice in our first meeting was able to educate me on the quality and benefits of using doTERRA essential oil for your mental, physical and emotional health. I can’t even describe how much of a positive impact using essential oils has had on not only my life and my friends and family. I was able to share my essential oils with my daughter to help with her anxiety (Balance) and my cousin who is battling pancreatic cancer (Lavender, serenity/calming) for sleep or DeepBlue (for pain). Essential oils have become a daily part of my life. I use the ADAPTIV when I’m juggling numerous projects and have to focus on one task for a specific amount of time. Patrice Freeman is my Health Hero and I’m so grateful that she introduces me to the wonderful life of doTERRA Essential Oils.”

There are 50 more reader stories about their health heroes! See the full list our latest issue now on newsstands or keep reading in our free digital guide linked below!

The story above is a preview from our July/August 2022. For more stories, subscribe today or view our FREE digital edition. Thank you for supporting local journalism!