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This article was published 20/11/2013 (2701 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
China is looking to a Winnipeg institution to improve the health of its citizens.
The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital (SOGH) has signed an agreement with the Chinese Hospital Association to provide chronic disease prevention/management training to Chinese hospital staff for the country’s approximately 20,000 hospitals.
The partnership stems from a trip by Chinese hospital representatives to the SOGH medical fitness facility two years ago. This past July, and again in September, the Chinese Hospital Association brought SOGH president and chief operating officer Carrie Solmundson to China to discuss ways to incorporate the Wellness Institute model into the Chinese health-care system.
"In China they have very minimal primary care structures. Hospitals provide all care. That’s where you go for a minor issues right to end-stage disease," Solmundson said. "They’re in a position where now 75% of deaths are related to chronic disease, so they need to shift their focus to help people not only manage their chronic disease, but also prevent. That’s why they picked us."
According to Solmundson, due to China’s growing middle class, an increasingly Westernized diet and the prevalence of smoking, the Chinese are experiencing higher rates of obesity, heart, kidney and lung diseases and diabetes.
Solmundson said it’s these same problems that led to SOGH opening the Wellness Institute in October, 1996.
"Twenty years ago, it became apparent that we needed to do more for patients around chronic disease," Solmundson said. "With acute episodic care, you come to the hospital, you get treated and then you’re discharged. It’s not really helping patients to improve their quality of life and health status."
"Same story here, 75% of deaths (are related to) chronic disease. What are we doing? We looked across North America at what other hospitals were doing, and they were making big investments in continuing care. They were building these facilities that are medically integrated."
Adjacent to SOGH, the 80,000 square-foot Wellness Institute offers top-of-the-line fitness equipment and training, disease management programs, health education seminars, a rehabilitation and sports injury clinic, massage and reflexology, children’s programming and more.
"We are Canada’s first medical fitness facility, and we’ve been approached from across the country, on how we built it, what we offer and how to be sustainable," Solmundson said. "I think that was the attraction for China, the difference between an American and a Canadian approach, because we are a publicly funded model, but we figured out how to have fee-for-service programs as well as a mixture of funded programs."
Chinese hospital administrators and health-care staff will visit the Wellness Institute in spring 2014 for training. The partnership will also see the Wellness Institute and China collaborating on chronic disease management research.
"We’ve always had a research arm at the Institute, and there is lots of opportunity to look at their technology and research as well," Solmundson said. "There are lots of opportunities that we could partner with them on mutual areas of interest."
Community journalist — The Times
Jared Story was the community journalist for The Times.