According to the Community Health Needs Assessment executed by Augusta Health in 2016, a top health priority for people throughout our region is the need to stay physically active and to eat nutritiously. Good health in general, and risk for specific diseases like diabetes and heart disease are often tied to physical fitness and good nutrition. Yet, there are some members in our community who are unable to exercise at a local fitness center, due to lack of income.
To meet this specific need, Augusta Health Fitness Center developed the Fit for Life program, a six-month, medically prescribed exercise program for individuals in the community who could participate in an exercise program to help manage their medical condition, but who need financial assistance to participate. This program is funded through a grant from the Augusta Health Foundation’s Patient Care Fund.
“The program is specifically for those with a medical diagnosis, such as diabetes or heart disease, and who may be able to better manage their condition with exercise. The program participants are supervised by an exercise specialist,” explains Stephanie Mims, PT, DPT, MBA, Director of Therapy Services and Fitness at Augusta Health. “The specialist, after testing the participant, will develop a specific, individualized exercise program. The goal is to be purposeful in helping each person improve his or her health.”
In addition to pre-testing before beginning the program, a post-program fitness assessment will be done at the end of six months to monitor progress. The program can be renewed after the first six months.
“There are some requirements for the program,” explains Mims. “There is a medical clearance form that must be completed by the physician’s office, and there is some paperwork for the individual to complete to show the need for financial assistance. Our assistance guidelines are based on the federal poverty guidelines, and are the same as those used by the hospital for financial assistance. Once approved, we expect people in the program to visit Augusta Health Fitness an average of eight times each month to complete the program designed for them. After three months, we review their progress and make sure that they are on track.”
While the program is new, it is similar in fitness design to Augusta Health Fitness’ RxEx program. The RxEx program has demonstrated outcomes where participants have reduced their blood pressures, and improved their flexibility, strength and stamina.
“We’re excited to fund innovative programs such as Fit for Life because they improve both the health and the quality of life of our community,” says Tami Radecke, Executive Director of the Augusta Health Foundation. “Fit for Life is one of six special projects throughout Augusta Health that were chosen for funding this year. All six improve the patient care experience, the quality of the care provided, and decrease the cost of care. All were made possible by generous community members’ gifts to the Augusta Health Foundation. We are all grateful for their partnership in improving the health of all in our community. ”
Augusta Health Foundation’s mission is to inspire community ownership through charitable giving to advance health and wellness in our region. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Augusta Health and supports essential patient care programs and services at Augusta Health, including Augusta Health Hospice of the Shenandoah. For more information about Augusta Health Foundation, please visit the website, http://www.augustahealth.com/foundation.
Augusta Health is an independent, community-owned, not-for-profit hospital whose mission is to promote the health and well-being of its community through access to excellent care. Named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in America by Thomson Reuters/Truven in both 2011 and 2012, Augusta Health has also been nationally recognized by Health Grades as one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for clinical excellence and patient safety for three consecutive years. For more information about Augusta Health, its programs or its services, please visit the website, www.augustahealth.com.