Spreading a Healthy Lifestyle Message

Great medical centers provide outstanding care to patients within and outside the hospital.

In recent years, Wake Forest Baptist Health Lexington Medical Center has emphasized one key external mission—educating the public about living a healthier lifestyle in hopes of reducing chronic disease.

Lexington Education Programs

Lexington Medical Center now holds more than 100 free community events a year, including health screenings, health-related lunch-and-learn seminars, community festivals and outreach programs to businesses.

“We try to provide education where people are,’’ says Dasia Jenkins, health promotions coordinator for Lexington Medical Center.

Bill James, president of Lexington Medical Center, says there is no question about the need for such programs.

“Given the increase of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity, it is our responsibility to bring attention in as many ways as we can,’’ he says. 

At a recent Lunch and Learn about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) at the J. Smith Young YMCA in Lexington, Jim Pittman, Lexington Medical Center’s manager of Cardiopulmonary Services, shared the story of his own heart attack. He told the audience his heart attack forced him to pay attention to all aspects of his health, especially the need to quit smoking.

Pittman’s strong anti-smoking message included a homemade video merging images and music about the damage that smoking can do. He reviewed the two primary types of COPD, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, both of which can be exacerbated by smoking. Throughout the session, he answered questions from the 30 people who attended.

When he speaks publicly, Pittman says he tries to give hope to those with COPD or who have friends and relatives with the disease.

“There are things they can do to help make life a little better each day for themselves, and there are resources here in the community,’’ he says.

Before and after Pittman’s talk, community health and wellness nurse Sue Epley offered blood pressure screening. A Lexington resident herself, she chatted amiably with many of those who stopped by.

Epley says she loves to talk with community members, and she encourages them to seek help or live a healthier lifestyle when their blood pressure is high. 

Epley has a history of involvement in community health and wellness programs. For several years, she and Melodie McDade, now Lexington Medical Center’s manager of Patient Relations, dressed up as a cow and a chicken, respectively, to teach schoolchildren about eating healthier foods.

Epley says she particularly discourages people from self-diagnosing.

“Don’t write off a health problem because you or your family member says, ‘Oh well, it’s just getting old.’” Rather, she says, she encourages people to write down questions about their health and discuss them with their physician.

James, the Lexington Medical Center president, calls the outreach done by Pittman and Epley, “the essence of being a community hospital.’’

“We take this educational role seriously because we want the best health possible for everyone in our community.’’

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Last Updated: 05-12-2016
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