The Healthy Rowan Coalition, a group of more than 25 local organizations, has been working with Community Care Clinic of Rowan County and Capstone Recovery Center to integrate lifestyle education and skill building into patient treatment and resident recovery plans.

“This type of change needs to take place from the top down,” says Community Care Clinic Executive Director Krista Woolly. “As an organization, our clinic has adopted a lifestyle medicine model of care. We believe addressing the root cause of disease is one of the best ways to help our patients live healthy and fulfilling lives.”

The clinic team assesses a patient’s lifestyle vitals such as fruit, vegetable and water intake as well as how much activity and sleep they receive. The clinic documents how much fast food a patient is eating. Patients then receive a lifestyle prescription and referral to classes to support their goals.

“According to the World Health Organization, 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer could be prevented, primarily with improvements to diet and lifestyle,” says Dr. Amy Wilson, board certified lifestyle medicine physician and medical director at the Community Care Clinic. “We know that individuals with chronic health conditions such as these are at a higher risk for developing COVID-19. Building healthy lifestyle behaviors such as drinking more water, being active and getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important steps someone can take to keep their immune system strong and healthy. This is especially important in reducing the risk of COVID-19.”

Capstone Recovery Center also integrates healthy lifestyles into their substance abuse and mental health recovery treatment programs. Residents are urged to plan, prepare, and share healthy meals together each week. Sugar is limited and water is encouraged. In addition, Executive Director Miriam Ramirez is grateful that Capstone Recovery’s residents are awarded scholarships by the J.F. Hurley YMCA. “Physical activity plays a significant role in helping residents manage existing health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression. It also helps those focused on a functional life of recovery by utilizing healthy physical activity as a positive coping mechanism. Our residents attend J.F. Hurley YMCA 2-3 times per week and when they are not able to do that, we encourage them to find other ways to be active at the center. We have an on-site treadmill and a library of exercise videos.”

Both organizations have been making referrals to Living Healthy with Chronic Disease 6-week workshops. Classes are free of cost. Class participants learn how to get started with an exercise program, make healthier food choices, and set achievable health goals. Over 50 participants have completed the program. Of those, over 80% of program graduates have started a regular exercise routine and made at least one other lifestyle change such as drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, or getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Two Community Care Clinic patients, Felicia Martin and Monica Hill, mother and daughter, have been taking brisk walks together, making more meals at home, and getting into a regular sleep routine since the program started. “We go to sleep no later than 9 p.m. and get up by 6 a.m. I feel more energetic and enjoy the quiet time in the morning to get ready for the day. I look forward to the class every Friday and the things I’ve learned have really helped shape my new self-care routine. Every healthcare provider should encourage their patients to take this class,” Martin said.

Community Care Clinic of Rowan County and Capstone Recovery Center, Inc have signed Healthy Rowan Healthy Lifestyle Pledges. Through these pledges, both organizations have agreed to ensure that lifestyle activities are part of the way they do business. These pledges highlight the commitment of these organizations, their leadership, and their staff in making Rowan County a healthier place to live.

Rowan County residents interested in registering for a Living Healthy 6-week series can contact Jennifer West at [email protected] or 704-787-1988. 

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