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St. Luke’s Dr. Jennifer Shalz on The Hill, Partnerships and Lifestyle Medicine: “It’s a matter of hope”

From left: Neil Melvin, clinical supervisor for St. Luke’s Heart, Dr. Jennifer Shalz, medical director of St. Luke’s Heart Health and Rehabilitation, Charmin Aschenbrener, St. Luke’s dietitian, Jeff Wagner, clinical supervisor for St. Luke’s Department of Lifestyle Medicine and Pat Lara, administrator, Heart and Vascular Services
By Chereen Langrill, News and Community
May 29, 2018

It was an honor to be a part of Friday’s grand opening celebration for The Hill, an exciting new collaboration that will foster recreation, health, wellness, education and literacy in one location.

St. Luke’s supports collaborative efforts like this because we recognize that wellness is a team sport. It takes all of us working together to give communities the tools needed for better health.

Here to tell you more about this inspiring new partnership is St. Luke’s Communications Coordinator Chereen Langrill.

- David C. Pate, M.D., J.D.

St. Luke’s mission, to improve the health of people in the communities we serve, will take on added dimensions with a new multi-function campus in Meridian.

The new South Meridian YMCA near the intersection of South Eagle and Amity roads will join the forces of community partners and serve as a comprehensive resource for people to strengthen bodies and minds and improve emotional health. Partners and friends celebrated the project with a grand opening event May 25.

Chris Roth, chief operating officer for St. Luke’s Health System, addresses the crowd during Friday’s grand opening of The Hill in Meridian.

The innovative collaboration, known as The Hill, involves the YMCA, St. Luke’s Health System, the Meridian Library District, the City of Meridian and the West Ada School District.

St. Luke’s Department of Lifestyle Medicine will make use of 8,000 square feet within the Y. The space will include classrooms, a teaching kitchen, consultation rooms and a transitional gym to serve patients in a medically supervised setting.

Factors such as depression, food choices and activity levels have been linked to conditions that include cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes. The Department of Lifestyle Medicine introduces people to tools that can help them take control of their health.

“Medication is a bandage that is treating the symptoms, but you can manage these conditions,” said Jeff Wagner, Department of Lifestyle Medicine clinical supervisor.

The new location at The Hill is the first time St. Luke’s will offer lifestyle medicine in a stand-alone space. Lifestyle medicine services will also continue at St. Luke’s Heart Health and Rehabilitation in Meridian, where similar programs have been in place for several years.

That original location served as a model for the new clinic in Meridian, according to Dr. Jennifer Shalz, medical director of St. Luke’s Heart Health and Rehabilitation.

“We were invited to design a clinic that could deliver lifestyle interventions,” she said.

People can be referred to the clinic through their physicians and will have access to:

  • Physician consultations
  • Supervised exercise therapy
  • Nutrition education
  • Counseling
  • Health coaching
  • Insomnia treatment
  • Tobacco treatment
  • Cooking classes

The new program will maintain strong connections with the other agencies and organizations located at The Hill. To that end, patients also have access to YMCA programs that can support their personal goals.

“This is a tight partnership,” Wagner said. “We can refer them to community programs by doing a warm handoff to the Y.”

St. Luke’s lifestyle medicine interventions will continue to expand in the future – at The Hill and other locations – to serve the growing community.

The concept of managing disease through lifestyle modifications is one that some patients have embraced because it helps them avoid additional expenses – and untold other complications – down the road, Dr. Shalz said.

“When people are healthy, they spend less money on health care,” she said. “It’s a matter of hope.”

About The Author

Chereen Langrill was formerly a communications coordinator for St. Luke’s Health System.

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