It’s always important to treat an individual illness or disease, but Coleen Niemann believes there’s far more to good health.
“What we know in health care is that the road to better health is never a single action,” says Niemann, director of marketing and community relations at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) in Idaho Falls.
“For example, when people need to lose weight, it’s typical to say, ‘be mindful of what you eat’. But that’s simplistic. In reality they need to be educated and aware about the food they eat. They need to understand why they may have fallen into an unhealthy lifestyle, by talking with a psychologist. They may need to speak with a diabetes educator. All these things are interconnected.”
The Wellness Center
To address the many factors that affect a person’s health, EIRMC launched the Wellness Center three years ago.
The Wellness Center physically occupies a suite in a building next to MVH, which provides easy access to patients. But more than a place, it is a carefully selected group of interconnected programs staffed by experts in their fields working together in an approach designed to treat patients holistically, rather than focusing on s single issue. The outcomes, the Wellness Center has found, help keep people out of the hospital, and also help post-hospital patients stay healthier longer.
“We have a registered dietitian, diabetes educators, a psychologist and a heart failure clinic,” says Kirie Brown, director of education and wellness at EIRMC. “We also have someone who walks patients through the process of having a joint replacement, telling them what to expect, an ostomy specialist, and also a bariatric area where you can go if you are interested in weight loss or bariatric surgery.”
The Wellness Center works with outpatients and inpatients.
”If I am a member of the public, I can access these services, but we also have a special interest in inpatients who have come to the hospital,” Niemann says. “Before they leave the hospital, we sit down and talk to them about the heart clinic or diabetes before they go home. We ask, ‘What do you need to do so you don’t wind up back in the hospital?’ We provide a continuum of care after inpatient services have been completed.”
Live Well Eastern Idaho
Another health-focused initiative that is positively impacting the community is Live Well Eastern Idaho, says Eastern Idaho Public Health Director Geri Rackow.
"The goal of Live Well Eastern Idaho is to help those in our community lead healthy lifestyles. Through Live Well Eastern Idaho, Eastern Idaho Public Health has partnered with our local hospitals, Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center and Mountain View Hospital, as well as the cities of Idaho Falls and Ammon to coordinate and provide educational seminars on different health topics as well as get people engaged in physical activity through free events such as community bike rides, swimming events, ice skating, and more, that the whole family can enjoy," Rackow says.
The monthly summer program spotlights a different public-health issue each month, with local experts speaking on topics as diverse as easing back pain, healthy finances and reading for stress relief.
Attendance at the events has been encouraging, says Cherie Webster, physician relations manager at Mountain View Hospital.
“Those who have participated are more aware of their health and what they need to stay healthy. After our health fair, I’ve heard people say, ‘I didn’t realize I wasn’t eating well’ or ‘I didn’t realize how much difference 30 minutes of exercise would make in the way I feel.’ They have these ‘Aha!’ moments," Webster says. "We all have a responsibility to help each other be well, in the sense of your entire life, from financial to mental, to emotional and physical health."