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Editorial: APD Program Focuses on Prevention

  • Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, N.H., is the third Upper Valley hospital to become affiliated with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The others are New London Hospital and Mt. Ascutney Hospital in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Fiorella Buck, who works in Dining Services, speaks with CEO Sue Mooney after Mooney’s presentation to employees about the hospital’s strategic plan and its affiliation with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Buck earlier said she supported the plan to give patients same-day primary care access.Valley News — Geoff Hansen

Published: 11/16/2018 10:09:49 PM
Modified: 11/20/2018 5:11:03 PM

An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure, and the members of the Upper Valley’s health care community really seem to be taking Benjamin Franklin’s advice to heart.

The Culinary Medicine Program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, for example, trains medical students, health care providers and patients how to incorporate healthful foods into their diets, with the idea that addressing chronic ailments such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be helped — and, ideally, prevented in the first place — with a better focus on nutrition and improved eating habits.

A very different approach, but with the same goal of prevention, is being taken by Upper Valley Ambulance and First Branch Ambulance, whose EMTs and paramedics have been making house calls in select areas to give flu shots, check on a patient’s medication and even spot possible safety problems, such as a missing stair railing.

Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center also is focusing on community preventive health strategies through, for instance, its family wellness program.

Now, a new program at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital aims to help prevent chronic disease by making it easier, and more affordable, for people to get more physically active.

As staff writer Nora Doyle-Burr reported earlier this month, the pilot program, called FitScripts, is basically a prescription for exercise that allows APD’s primary care providers to refer adult patients to area fitness centers, such as the Carter Community Building Association in Lebanon and the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction. The program is supported by the hospital’s Community Health Department and philanthropic donations and is targeted at patients for whom a monthly gym membership fee of $85 or so is out of reach. “We have wonderful fitness facilities here and cost is often a barrier for people,” Nancy DuMont, APD’s director of community health, told Doyle-Burr.

At both the CCBA and the UVAC, participants will meet with staff members to discuss their health situation and to be introduced to the programs and equipment available. Some wind up working out on their own, some get assistance from a personal trainer and others may join exercise groups.

Focusing on wellness and prevention — and exercise is a big part of that — “is the first line of defense and the most direct way to address what’s a really catastrophic health care cost situation,” CCBA fitness coordinator Rick Dickson told Doyle-Burr. John Grainger, the UVAC’s fitness and personal training director, agreed. “To have a hospital team up with a fitness center makes so much sense.” Both see a future in which a gym or fitness club membership is a regular part of everyone’s health insurance plan.

Benjamin Franklin wasn’t thinking about exercise or health care when he coined the adage about an ounce of prevention. He was trying to prevent the fires that were ravaging his adopted city of Philadelphia by suggesting that people be more careful when they transported hot coals from one stove to another in their home. But with health care costs raging like a wildfire, Franklin’s advice, as always, is worth heeding.

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