Mind, Body & Soul: How McAllen Keeps Residents Happy and Healthy

Community-based programs keep residents active and happy.

By
Cynthia Yeldell Anderson
On Thursday, April 23, 2020 - 10:29
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Health care and healthy living options are improving for Rio Grande Valley residents almost on a daily basis.

Health care options in the Valley have grown substantially in the past decade, and today, area health care providers are going beyond the borders of hospital walls to provide innovative health initiatives that improve the wellness of the entire community.

From a pediatric health center with nutrition experts for the entire family to a pioneering Yoga 4 Cancer program, there are more ways than ever to achieve better health in the Rio Grande Valley, with many of which are made possible by area health providers.

“We definitely want to be proactive in our health pursuits rather than retroactive,” says Hans Cabezuela, clinical manager of rehabilitation and wound care services at Rio Grande Regional Hospital.

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Jose Maria Ruiz/DHR Health

Fighting Cancer With Yoga

Rio Grande Outpatient Rehabilitation Center’s innovative Yoga 4 Cancer program is improving the lives of cancer patients and their caregivers. Launched in November, Yoga 4 Cancer is a specialized yoga methodology designed to meet the physical and emotional needs of people who have been diagnosed with cancer. Goals are to improve flexibility and strength while reducing anxiety. The program’s motto is “Cancer steals your breath. Yoga gives it back.” 

“It is proven that yoga is an effective and low-cost health management tool,” says Jocelyn McDonald, who teaches the class.

“Yoga 4 Cancer is not just relaxation or restorative, it has to touch on all of the different systems with the goal of improving the immune system.”

Yoga 4 Cancer uses props, blocks and yoga pillows, McDonald says, to accommodate people of various fitness levels.

McDonald says the newly launched program at the Rio Grande Outpatient Rehabilitation Center is the only one of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley area.

The program is free to the community.

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Kayla Bannwart/DHR Health

Fishing for Hope

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health has a unique way of improving the health of the community. Its Fishing for Hope tournament funds lifesaving medications, care and medical treatments for Rio Grande Valley-area residents.

The tournament, which has become one of the largest nonprofit fishing tournaments on the Texas coast, annually donates proceeds to the Hope Family Health Center and has contributed more than $2.6 million since the tournament began.

Hope Family Health Center is a nonprofit clinic in McAllen that provides free medical and counseling care to uninsured families. The clinic sees more than 4,000 patients per year.

DHR Community Events Coordinator Elisa Mares says DHR wants the entire community to reach its optimum health.

“Patients at the clinic do not have a primary care provider, and they may end up without treatment without the Hope Family Health Center,” Mares says. “We make sure the Hope Family Health Center is able to continue to provide health care to the Rio Grande Valley.”

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Gerardo Garmendia/DHR Health

Keeping Children Healthy

South Texas Health System is helping keep children in the community healthy with its Center for Healthy Weight. A new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the childhood obesity rate in Texas is the 19th highest in the country. South Texas Health System is taking a community-based approach at its center where doctors, nurse practitioners and registered dietitians work specifically with children and youths between the ages of 15 months to 21 years.

Doctors focus on healthy lifestyles, such as eating smaller portions, following a healthy diet, avoiding high-calorie and low-nutrition foods, reducing screen time, and developing better exercise habits. The program focuses on prevention, long-term success and achieving healthy lifestyles for the entire family.

During their first visits, children are examined, and a special weight management program is created for the child and his or her family. Children may also be connected with an exercise physiologist or therapist.