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Health Care Providers Help Residents Live Their Best Life in Ames

Story County offers cutting-edge health and wellness programs.

By Cynthia Yeldell Anderson on May 5, 2019

Ames, IA Health Care
Ames / Courtesy of McFarland Clinic

From its Medically Oriented Gym (MOG) to its physician-owned multispecialty clinics, Story County has cutting-edge health and wellness programs that rival communities 10 times its size.

Medically Oriented Gym (MOG)

At Story County Medical Center, residents can stay fit by working out in the new MOG which opened in April 2018 and is one of about 30 licensed, hospital-based workout facilities in the country.

The MOG offers memberships to area residents, who can work with an interdisciplinary team of medical providers, exercise specialists and nutritionists. Experts develop exercise and nutrition plans for each member.

MOG Coordinator and Exercise Physiologist Steve Van Dam, says the MOG is a tremendous benefit to those who just want to stay healthy or for individuals who are trying to manage a specific condition such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure.

“We set realistic attainable goals and work with patients individually,” Van Dam says. “We can monitor progress and give assessments to the doctors.”

Local resident, Sandy Ehrig, uses the MOG and also takes advantage of Story Medical’s early morning fitness classes, Women on Weights and Fit-4-Life.

“It’s not just an open gym,” Ehrig says. “You have a plan, we are monitored, and I appreciate that. We are really fortunate to have this unique facility.”

Community Outreach & Proactive Health Care

Residents also have access to McFarland Clinic, a physician-owned multispecialty clinic network with locations in 12 area communities. McFarland’s physicians cover more than 50 medical specialty areas, and the clinic offers urgent care and express care locations as well as same-day appointments.

Through McFarland’s Population Health initiative, clinical navigators reach out to patients who are overdue for preventive care screenings such a mammograms, colonoscopies and well-child visits. The goal is to get patients scheduled for procedures that can save lives.

“We are proactive,” says Dr. Don Skinner, medical director at McFarland Clinic.

“We will call you, we will email you, we will message you to try to get you to come in and take care of the things you need.”

McFarland offers chronic disease management where patients receive phone calls and sometimes even in-home visits to ensure they do not have any unmet medical needs.

In 2015, McFarland Clinic, Iowa State University, the city of Ames and Mary Greeley Medical Center formed the Ames Health Care Alliance to enhance the health of workers at these major employers.

Within the past year, McFarland Clinic established a patient advisory council so patients could provide direct feedback on their experiences.

Dr. Skinner says listening to patients, offering preventative care and having a relationship with a primary care provider are key to sustaining both the physical and emotional health of the community.

Kids on the Run

Children can start early with healthy living habits here, too.

Mary Greeley Mileage Club is a massive walking program in schools where students have an option to walk or run during their recess. Launched in 2006, the program has grown each year and in 2018, elementary students from 15 Story County schools logged more than 46,600 miles.

Students are motivated to walk for rewards such as tokens which serve as foot-shaped charms for necklaces when they reach mileage goals. The charms come in different colors and indicate milestones such as five miles. Lynn Maves, registered dietitian who works with the Mileage Club program, says many students set goals of collecting school colors or other combinations so they can design their own personal necklace.

“They are so proud of those tokens,” Maves says. “They get very excited and very enthusiastic about it.”

Mileage Club also has a nutrition component where students are encouraged to eat 56 servings of fruits and 56 servings of vegetables over an eight-week period.

The program is operated by the Mary Greeley Medical Center, a 220-bed regional hospital that offers health care to central Iowa residents. Businesses, such as REG (Renewable Energy Group), serve as sponsors and hundreds of teachers and parent volunteers are involved in ensuring the program’s success.

While Mileage Club is the most high-profile community health and wellness initiative provided by Mary Greeley, its total annual community impact exceeds $30 million and includes free clinics, financial assistance and charitable donations.

Mary Greeley recently received a $50,000 grant that will address food security by providing funds to several local agencies to help provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need.

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