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Pulmonary Care at WDH Helps Patient Breathe Easier

­­When Paul Holloway started dozing off in the middle of meetings, he got worried. “During a conversation my head would drop for 10 to 15 seconds and it looked like I wasn’t paying attention, but I was falling asleep.” The cause was carbon dioxide in his lungs — it eventually reached dangerous levels, leading him to collapse. He was hospitalized at another health care facility. 

After undergoing five days of multiple testing, a lung X-ray showed his left diaphragm was paralyzed, completely restricting the function in his left lung. But, no one could agree on the cause or treatment. He was sent home with oxygen tanks and a ventilator with very little hope of improvement.

Disappointed but not discouraged, Holloway sought a second opinion at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. They changed the treatment plan, gave him hope that his condition could improve, and recommended he see Dr. Ali Al-Alwan at Wentworth-Douglass for long-term rehab and continual evaluation. Holloway recalls the February 2018 meeting when he first met Dr. Al-Alwan. “He’s a very, very bright guy, but also a very attentive person. What really impressed me was that he had read my file beforehand. He knew more about me than I did.”

After assessing Holloway’s condition, Dr. Al-Alwan recommended respiratory therapy and non-invasive ventilation — which means wearing a mask at night while he sleeps to mechanically assist his lungs with ventilation. “His lungs were not functioning well because the muscles were not strong enough to support his breathing,” explains Dr. Al-Alwan. “I prescribed a pulmonary rehab supervised exercise program so that he could focus on breathing exercises and building upper-body strength.”

“Dr. Al-Alwan put my mind at ease,” says Holloway, recalling the meeting. “He spent a lot of time explaining what the situation was and what had to be done, therapy-wise. When I walked out of there, I had a lot of confidence in that doctor.”

Soon, Holloway was working with a Pulmonary Care team that he now describes as “unbelievable.” He vividly recalls one of his initial meetings with Mark Doyle, a respiratory therapist in the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehab Program. “Mark spent about an hour going over how to breathe, how to recapture your breath, what we were going to do as far as the therapy goes. He said, ‘We’re going to be here for you, we’ll show you how, we’ll support you and take care of you, but we can’t do it for you.”

Holloway jumped right in to therapy and the results have been life-changing. He goes to two, one-hour rehab sessions a week and also does exercises at home. “I wouldn't be here if it wasn’t for Wentworth Douglass,” says Holloway, who credits his rapid recovery to his rehabilitation services team, including Collette Carville, cardiac and pulmonary rehab program manager; Ryan Page, exercise physiologist; and Janet Griffin-Vaughan, RN, along with Dr. Al-Alwan and Doyle.

“I’ve been to a lot of hospitals and Wentworth Douglass stands out,” says Holloway, whose name is well known in New Hampshire for the car dealerships he founded. “I always told my employees that customers don’t come to us because my name is on the building, they come because of how you treat the customer. Everyone at Wentworth Douglass is remarkable. They create a positive atmosphere. I look forward to going. It gets challenging but that’s what it’s all about.”

“He’s been a great patient,” says Carville. “He works so hard on his breathing techniques and his exercise tolerance. His improvement has been so impressive.”

With a spring in his step, Holloway is bringing renewed energy to the many boards and organizations that he assists. After serving for an unprecedented 16 years on the University of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, including three years as chairman, Holloway went on to chair the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH). CCNSH recently named the Student Success Center at Great Bay Community College after him. Holloway and his wife, Anna Grace, also run the Little Harbor Charitable Foundation, which provides grants to Seacoast organizations working for the health, education, and welfare of children. Holloway is a New Hampshire Lottery commissioner and an owner of the Wentworth Marina in New Castle.

Holloway credits Wentworth Douglass with his ability to resume the activities he enjoys. “We are very fortunate to have a hospital like Wentworth Douglass, that supports our community and should be supported by our community,” says Holloway. “Because of the doctor and my rehab team, I feel better today than I did eight years ago. I’m starting to drive people crazy again.”

The physicians at Wentworth Health Partners Seacoast Pulmonary Medicine offer a broad spectrum of specialized services for patients with all types of pulmonary and respiratory diseases, including obstructive and restrictive lung diseases, respiratory failure, lung cancer, occupational lung disease, and more. Call (603) 740-9713 or visit

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