Eisenhower Wellness Institute Focuses on Lifestyle Changes for Improved Health
In the March issue of Desert Health ® , our lead feature discussed how US Medical Schools are starting to embrace integrative medicine. In that article, Dr. Richard Olds, Vice Chancellor, Health Affairs & Founding Dean of UC Riverside School of Medicine stated that “in the American medical community, we have become extremely good at letting people get sick and then saving their lives in the end. We have not been very good at keeping people healthy.”
Eisenhower’s Wellness Institute (EWI) is looking to change that perception in the Coachella Valley by offering ‘lifestyle programs’ that will help identify unhealthy habits and get individuals on track by making healthier choices.
“We realize that doctors today don’t often have the time to speak with patients about nutrition, exercise and other lifestyle recommendations,” said EWI Medical Director, Patricia Avila, M.D. “So we created a platform that gives both doctors and patients this opportunity.”
EWI lifestyle programs are tailored to meet individual needs, goals, and objectives. Patients work with EWI’s team of physicians and specialists to get answers and direction on a myriad of health concerns including midlife changes, weight management, sports medicine, memory preservation, stress management, and integrative health care.
“Sometimes patients need help identifying why they don’t feel their best, and the lifestyle decisions that have gotten them to where they are today,” states Avila, “Our team of qualified doctors take the time to look at the whole person through face-to-face consultations, as well as a physical test. We then create a healthy living program that will fit in to their daily schedule to ensure long term success.”
In addition to physician recommendations, EWI is bringing in practitioners from complementing modalities such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, and mindful meditation. “There is so much information out there,” adds Avila. “Our team of doctors and specialists are making recommendations that have been studied and are evidence-based. We want to introduce these complementing (or alternative) practices so they may be considered viable options for one’s wellness routine.”
So how does it work? Patient’s contacting EWI will first speak with Program Director, Diana Berchem, R.N. to discuss areas of concern and to review the menu of programs offered. An appointment with the recommended physician is then set for a thorough evaluation and physical exam. Avila and her team review the results, and the patient and doctor then come up with a program including objectives, goals and a timeline that fits your schedule.
Each program is individually tailored and may range from one 4 hour consult, to a one day customized program, to a 3 day stay. There is personalized tracking throughout the year, and follow-ups at 3 and 6 months to see how the patient is progressing in relation to his/her goals.
EWI is also offering group programs for families and friends who want to achieve the same goals together. Group programs are run by physicians for up to four weeks.
“If the group wants our exercise physiologist to do fitness assessments, we bring in that practitioner. If it is a nutritionist to teach better eating and food choices, we bring in that team member,” states Berchem. “Our first group programs launched in October, and the energy and enthusiasm is inspiring.”
Community outreach is another significant part of EWI’s efforts. “We want to work with community organizations,” adds Avila. “We encourage our patients to partake in the many programs available that make wellness affordable for all and fun in a group setting.” EWI is working collaboratively with the Desert Recreational District to get people involved in the many recreational activities offered. “We want you to enter a community class knowing this is what you need and knowing how to do it.”
EWI’s outreach also includes a mobile team available to companies, businesses and organizations. “The workplace environment has a lot to do with healthy lifestyle choices. We can bring health education and evaluations to local businesses to address specific concerns and or topics.”
This outreach program is a valuable first step for Eisenhower. In our March interview with Dr. Michael Roizen, the Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Wellness Officer (and Dr. Oz’s partner), he stated that “we (leading institutions) need to show that we can change health care costs in our own region and in turn make America healthier.” The Cleveland Clinic’s community outreach program is a world-renowned model and their efforts have improved health trends and statistics, not only in their immediate community, but throughout their entire county.
EWI is focusing on each individual. “We are moving away from the cookie cutter approach to patients and delivering a personalized, interdisciplinary program for long-term wellness.” Avila concludes, “We want you to be successful. To learn how to make change that will last a lifetime.”
For more information on Eisenhower’s Wellness Institute programs, call Program Director, Diana Berchem 760-610-7360 DBerchem@emc.org.