Center teaches patients to live healthier, exercise

Cassie Buchman, City Editor

Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center opened a Center for Healthy Living facility in Fall 2014 allowing people with serious health issues to exercise and learn healthy lifestyles in a safe environment.

Patty Peterson, the director of public relations at Sarah Bush, said the new center caters to patients who have “chronic issues that cause (patients) to not live the best life they could live.”

These issues include chronic pain, depression, obesity and cancer-related diseases, those recovering from surgery and other injuries and more.

One of their success stories is of a woman who was not able to climb a flight of stairs in decades who is now able to walk up two flights up stairs routinely to see her doctor.

“There are patients who have lost 10, 20, 30 pounds,” Peterson said.

The facility is staffed with nutritionists, physical trainers who help patients with their goals, and exercise specialists who “guide them on a journey to get to a better place.”

“The nutritionists help people change their (unhealthy) behaviors so they can take less blood pressure medications, less cholesterol medication,” Peterson said. “They get (the patients) to a higher level of health.”

She said it could help them restore confidence and regain a good level of health.

The patients have their exercise schedule set up by their trainers. They can either participate through one-on-one session or with a small group.

“The patients can come seven days a week if they want,” Peterson said.

It is only usable for those who are referred to the Center for Healthy Living by a physician. Those who feel that they could benefit from the Center can call their doctor for a referral.

“Old people are more frail (and) prone to falling. (The Center can) keep them steadier on their feet and help them move more,” Petersen said. “People with chronic pain also may not move much, and this helps them get over that hump (of not moving much).”

She said about 90 patients have come so far, along with 500 employees and their spouses, who are able to use the facility.

“(Most of the patients) are the opposite of students. They may be sedentary for as many as 60 years,” Peterson said.

Peterson said Sarah Bush based the Center of Healthy Living on a model for fitness activity they had from when they went to Michigan.

There was a speaker from the American Academy of Sports Medicine who wrote a book on using exercise as medicine.

He suggested physicians could prescribe exercise instead of medication.

She said exercise should be the first line of defense, before medications.

“The ultimate goal is to keep people out of the hospital and get them well so they can have a better quality of life,” Peterson said. “People with respiratory issues, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often land back in the hospital.”

She said it could be a long journey back to recovery, especially when people experience “episodes” where their illnesses or injuries flare up.

“People with episodes fall back in the hospital, then move on to critical care,” Peterson said. “These people who are typically older, might go to rehab.”

She said they could not really move because they are too weak or tired.

The Center for Healthy Living partnered with Eastern and the Mattoon YMCA.

The Center keeps people for four months before sending them to the Adult Fitness Center at Eastern or the YMCA.

“It’s a community partnership,” Peterson said.

Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].