Being Involved in Community Projects Can Have a Direct Impact on Helping Patients.
We talk to Dr. Carlos Romero and Tasha Saca about how Reliance Medical Centers gets involved with the community and how it benefits both patients and the community as a whole.
Q: “When did Reliance Medical Centers get involved with the community?”
A: “Reliance Medical Centers has always found ways to get involved in community health and wellbeing programs. If we can contribute to the wellbeing of the community, then everyone benefits, including our patients.
Q: “What type of programs do you get involved with?”
A: “We are involved in around nine community health programs at the moment. For example, we are a founding friend of Age-Friendly Lakeland. We are also involved with Age-Friendly Winter Haven, Better Living for Seniors, the Echo project through the Alzheimer’s Association and the Coalition of Injury Prevention, to name a few.
Q: “Can you give me an example of how a recommendation you made with one of these groups gets adopted by the city?”
A: One example is where we recommended to the City of Lakeland that they create a shaded area in one of the public parks with some exercise equipment so that people could use it for basic workouts. This area is now fully operational and being actively used by people that don’t have any equipment at home.
Q: “The Coalition for Injury Preventions sounds interesting. What does it do and how is Reliance involved?”
A: “It’s a group that provides injury prevention resources to positively impact communities through partnerships, communications, and support of community events. We are specifically involved with the Fall Prevention Taskforce.
We review fall statistics from ourselves and also Lakeland Regional Hospital. The data shows us the types of falls that are causing injury in our community, and we can also identify what demographics are most at risk. From this, we can come up with initiatives to help prevent people from falling. The data also shows us which efforts work best so that we can refine programs and develop new ones.
Reliance Medical Centers was invited to join this particular taskforce because of our specialization in senior health. The demographics clearly show that seniors are most at risk of falling, are prone to more severe falls and on average take much longer to recover from falls. In fact, with seniors, bad falls can have a long-lasting negative impact on health and wellbeing and so fall prevention programs really make a difference.
Q: “Can you explain the sorts of initiatives you have introduced?”
A: “So, let’s start with the ‘Living with series’; a series of medical information and help books that are available to anyone in the community to help them deal with certain medical conditions or diseases. We have dedicated one of these books to falls prevention, called Increased Risk of Falls (IRF). When creating the book, we went to great lengths to ensure it would become a real, practical guide. It explains what increases the risk of falls and what steps to take to take to help prevent falls.
We have also created a range of activities at our Reliance Wellness Club. For example, we have introduced our ‘Bone Builders Class.’ This class has become our most popular by far. It runs every day of the week. In this class, we run through and teach a range of exercises that help build muscle mass and bone density. We also run a Tai Chi class, which also helps build bone density and muscle mass, but of course, also helps with balance and flexibility.
Also popular is our mindful meditation class; this class helps our seniors to remain aware and in the now. In this way, they can be more conscious of their surroundings at any given time, which helps avoid any accidental slips or falls through not entirely paying attention. Even our ‘Cooking for Seniors’ class helps as it recommends recipes with increased calcium, which also helps increase bone density.
Q: “How do you know that the work that you are doing is having an impact and preventing falls?”
A: “We collect data on our patients; this allows us to compare their progress from before they take any classes to after taking classes, and you can see the improvement. Also, patients actively tell us about specific instances where they have been able to prevent a fall due to what they have learned with us. The programs really make a difference.
Q: “How do you get people to attend these classes?”
A: Our doctors actively recommend to patients different activities that we run at the Reliance Wellness Club when they see there is a need. We have even created Wellness Club prescription pads. Doctors now note down recommended classes for patients, which makes it easier for them to follow up and be able to attend classes. Similar to the way a patient might be prescribed to go for some physiotherapy when it is required. Doctors can now prescribe cooking classes or bone-building classes that are specifically designed to improve health and health outcomes.
The effort that Reliance Medical Centers makes to get involved in effective community programs has a real positive impact on the community. It also says a great deal about how Reliance takes a more holistic approach to health and wellness for the greater good.
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