On April 15th the Board of Eisenhower Medical Center held its annual Trustee meeting and installation of the new Board President, Greg Renker. I was honored to speak on the topic of “Wellness: Improving the Economics of Illness.” The commitment of our medical center to lead the way by incorporating integrative care with traditional western medicine is an expansion of the long-standing paradigm of separation of healing practices. We are part of a definite shift in society’s view on health and recognize that there is no one viewpoint that provides all the answers. In our quest for wellness, we need each other. 

The following is my address to the Board:

Above the entrance of this building, the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, is the inscription “Medicine for the 21st Century.” In 1981 at the building’s inauguration, Walter Annenberg made a statement as to why this motto was chosen. He described the responsibility we have to mankind to “Improve the economics of illness.” So today, I am going to talk about why “Wellness” is a key to this task. 

Let’s talk about the “Big Four.” Now I’m not talking about the culmination of March Madness that left our house feeling a bit sad last night as Kentucky fans. I’m talking about the “big four” causes of death, and the “big four” components of wellness.

The big four in causes of death in our country are heart disease, cancer, lung disease and Alzheimer’s disease. These four disease states cost us 1 billion dollars a day. And 50% of that is spent on 5% of our population. 

Now, notice the big four initiatives in wellness: nutrition, fitness, tobacco cessation, and stress reduction. When we compare the common risk factors for the leading killers it is notable that these factors can be fully reversed by the “big four” in the world of wellness. In other words, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and sedentary living are risk factors that are countered by nutrition, fitness, tobacco cessation and stress reduction. 

The big four of wellness wield their power by lowering inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been found to be the instigating factor in 90 percent of our disease states. All of these diseases have a common origin. Inflammation is the instigator. 

When we look for the causes of inflammation, we end up back at lifestyle and multiple simple choices. 

The realization that lifestyle is the king-pin, or the first domino in a domino effect towards disease, offers an alternative key to the health care crisis facing this country – and our hospital. The bottom line is, we hold so much more power than we can imagine – yes, genetics have a role – they have about a 30% impact on whether we will get a disease or not. But lifestyle choices, the day-in, day-out tiny choices we make; these have a greater than 40% impact on whether we will develop a diagnosis or disease. 

At Eisenhower Wellness Institute, our mission is to provide a platform for integration of the best of alternative practices and lifestyle medicine. We believe that the individual is capable of healing and that maximum wellness means maximum adaptability. 

The Wellness Institute has committed to four service lines to our community. These are Employee Wellness, Community Wellness, Executive Health Services and Satellite Services. 

By leading with Employee Wellness, we are committed to creating a culture of health within our institution. As the largest employer in the valley, the impact of supporting our employees’ health is pivotal. By offering the option for our employees to experience the best and be our best ambassadors, our patients will also benefit. 

This season we have built a foundation of practitioners who offer a variety of alternative health practices both in our home site in the Argyros Building, but also in Palm Desert and next season in Palm Springs. Using a team approach where each client benefits from a group review of their needs, clients are offered services ranging from acupuncture to kinesiology. 

Our Executive Health Programs offer efficient, comprehensive health assessments along with the most advanced testing and alternative laboratory tests. Examples of testing include genetic, inflammatory, and nutritional markers, which can be used to customize lifestyle recommendations for participants. 

Satellite programs in our community include partnerships with country clubs to impact their member’s health, and partnerships with our cities to provide education and interactive programming in the areas of nutrition, fitness and stress reduction. 

At Eisenhower we provide exceptional acute medical care, and when those services are needed, we are never more grateful for these resources and the visionaries who built this institution. 

However, the time has come to lead the way in prevention and lifestyle and to expand our services to include the best in integrative care as well. 

As Albert Einstein wisely foresaw, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

Dr. Jeralyn Brossfield is the Director of the Eisenhower Wellness Institute and can be reached at (760) 610.7360.

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