article originally appeared in The Columbia Star, Friday, June 15, 2012
Sick care in this country will soon exceed $2.5 trillion, and despite this investment U.S. health is ranked only 37th worldwide by the World Health Organization. Sixty five percent of Americans are overweight, and 35 percent are obese. Experts agree that this will be the first generation in our nation’s history that will not live longer than their parents.
Surprisingly, of all healthcare costs, 75 percent is lifestyle mediated chronic disease. In other words, 75 percent of illnesses may be prevented by adhering to a healthy lifestyle. Healthcare fails to effectively treat this pandemic because it only addresses symptoms, not causation. For example, for high cholesterol, a doctor gives a patient medicine. For type 2 diabetes, a doctor gives the patient insulin. Diet and exercise are usually not given priority as treatment for these and other lifestyle related diseases.
Not only does this crush our nation’s economy by way of increased sick care costs, but it holds very little hope of a cure, keeping individuals sick for the remainder of their lives.
Doctors Wellness Center was founded to offer an alternative to traditional healthcare using lifestyle as medicine. Research proves comprehensive lifestyle changes, including exercise and nutrition, can prevent and reverse chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
With experts in the fields of exercise physiology, nutrition and physical therapy, Doctors Wellness Center has the staff and programs to address issues such as weight loss, risk factors such as hypertension, chronic diseases such as diabetes and orthopedic issues such as back pain, arthritis and osteoporosis.
The business application of Doctors Wellness Center’s clinical protocol includes medical weight management, preventive medicine and corporate health.
The following stories are examples of what monitored exercises with qualified trainers, proper nutrition with expert dieticians and caring, kind people can do to turn around a person’s life.
Beverly participated in DWC’s medical weight loss program, “Healthy in Twelve.” Without shots, pills or frozen meals, she was able to gain control of her weight and her health.
“I’m living life now instead of watching it,” says Beverly Bergeron, 55. But in 2007, Beverly would not have ventured to Mexico to zip line and parasail, as she has done recently, because she was morbidly obese with uncontrolled blood pressure. She had fallen and broken both legs and had issues with her knees, osteoarthritis and a hernia. Her doctor said, “If you don’t change your lifestyle, you won’t be my patient many more years.” He referred her to Doctors Wellness Center.
Paul Lomas, director of Doctors Wellness Center, has worked in the health field for 30 years. He is passionate about Doctors Wellness Center and the clients it serves, and those who participate in the programs feel that passion.
Beverly says, “Paul set up a program for me to help gain control. He gave me exercises to help but not defeat me.” Exercise included cardiovascular three to four times a week and strength training twice a week. Beverly says she had to take all of her training downstairs when she first started because she was not able to walk up the stairs.
Beverly also learned the correct choices for her diet with nutritionist Traci Barrilleaux. Beverly reported to Traci and says she could not have done this without being held accountable.
Beverly has continued with the program for five years doing the 12-week program over and over with the staff refining it each time to meet her needs. To date, she has lost 110 pounds, and her blood pressure is under control. She not only can “do the stairs but now does 20 to 30 minutes on the elliptical stepper. Everything has improved.”
With tears in her eyes, Beverly says, “These people are my extended family. When my husband died, almost every one of the staff came to his funeral. And thanks to them, I am now controlling my life.”
Insurance premiums have soared over these past years due to the increasing demand for expensive procedures that can be prevented with diet and exercise. When individuals can no longer pay the high cost to be insured, it resonates throughout the whole economy, not to mention what it does to the family.
Doctors Wellness Center has a corporate program to help companies keep their healthcare costs down. By screening the company’s employees, they find and help the individuals who need the program the most. As an example, they have been working with the City of Columbia’s employees for more than two years, and the results have been drastic in the City’s financial situation as well as the health of their employees.
Billy, 39, works for the City of Columbia as a back flow inspector. When his hands and feet went numb and he felt dizzy, his wife immediately took him to the doctor. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. His blood sugar was 458; a normal reading would be less than 100. This could easily have killed him. He weighed 350 pounds, weight he gained after being hit by a van, which also left him blind in one eye. Billy’s triglycerides and cholesterol were also dangerously high.
The City of Columbia, who had sent nearly 100 of its employees to Doctors Wellness Center with success, sent Billy. He started on the Healthy in Twelve program three months ago, has lost 30 pounds, has reduced his diabetes by 360 points, reduced his cholesterol and triglycerides to optimal levels, and restored liver function back to normal. He is now on the maintenance program.
Billy says, “Doctors Wellness Center is the best thing that ever happened to me. If I had not reversed my lifestyle, I probably would have had a heart attack.”
Dave Mackey (pictured, right, with Paul Lomas)
Doctors Wellness Center works directly with a client’s physician to provide a comprehensive approach to treat chronic disease.
Dave Mackey, 56 and owner of the Glass Doctor, thought he was the epitome of health. He exercised regularly, riding his bike and attending spin classes. Dave says, “I tried to take care of myself because my father dropped dead at age 59.”
But one day Dave was riding his bike through a remote part of Fort Jackson. He began “not to feel right, no steam.” But he kept riding and then had to stop to rest. He was scared and rode where there were people. He got off his bike and lay on the ground. He couldn’t get up. Someone called an ambulance.
Dave had had a “bad” heart attack that had caused a lot of damage. The doctors put in a stent. Recovery was not quick. Even after the stent, his heart was pumping at only 30 percent. He wore a defibrillator with the pads and battery. It warned him if his heart got out of rhythm and then shocked him hard if it did. As part of a study, he wore an implanted loop recorder for two years. He went through rehabilitation at the cardiac hospital.
After all that, Dave says, “I had to get back to me.” He tried a local gym and “they said all the right things,” but he didn’t feel safe. Dr. Norma Khoury suggested he go to Doctors Wellness Center. That was two years ago.
Dave chokes up and has to take a moment before he can continue his story. “Paul was brutally honest. This was a Thursday. He told me to read two books — The Spectrum by Dean Ornish and The New American Plate by The American Institute for Cancer Research — and to come back Monday. He said ‘You are to have no meat, no alcohol, no sugar, only fresh vegetables, fruits and beans, and Dave, you can reverse this.’”
After what Dave had gone through, following Paul’s instructions was no struggle. “I happily did it all,” says Dave. Three months ago, Dave’s blood work was perfect. The doctors said it was remarkable. His heart function is back to normal. Dave says, “This has been a great experience. My wife embraced it from the start and drastically changed our family’s way of eating. She also goes to Doctors Wellness Center.”
Dave works with a trainer two nights a week and walks three nights a week. He can ride his bike, but his wife has a rule: He cannot ride his bike alone.
All members of the staff have degrees in exercise science and training for emergency situations.
Ken Richardson, 57, didn’t feel healthy a year ago. He says, “I was 20 pounds overweight with too much belly fat, got out of breath easily and my blood pressure was high.” A good friend of his suggested he try Doctors Wellness Center. He signed up for the Healthy in Twelve program in June 2011, and followed through with a strength trainer twice a week, cardio on other days and nutritional guidance.
One month after the end of that program, he says, “I was feeling really good. I had lost 20 pounds, my blood pressure was back to normal and my energy level had greatly increased.” However, on October 17, 2011, things changed.
Ken says he had a slight headache before he arrived at Doctors Wellness Center that day, but when he got on an elliptical stepper, his head was splitting. Wes Hardgrove took his blood pressure and while doing so, Ken passed out.
Daniel “Danny” Schrall, head trainer (pictured at left with client Penny Blackman), jumped into action. Within minutes an ambulance arrived and off they took Ken to the emergency room at Providence Hospital. Danny rode with him. It was later discovered that Ken was suffering from a subdural hematoma, and an operation was performed to relieve the pressure on his brain. A full recovery resulted, but had the condition gone untreated, it could very well have been fatal.
Mimi M. Maddock
The center offers a non-intimidating family friendly atmosphere.
“I first learned about Doctors Wellness Center in an article by Julia Rogers Hook published in The Columbia Star a year ago” says Mimi Maddock. “I discovered that I not only needed to know the proper way to exercise (because of my osteoarthritis), but I also needed supervision in doing so, accompanied by an improved diet. Paul gave me an assessment, instructed me in The New American Plate, and set up a training program for me. For a year, I have been to Doctors Wellness Center twice a week for strength training, and I do cardio three days a week. According to my doctor, my numbers are perfect. Going to Doctors Wellness Center is like walking into a room full of caring, positive people. The first smiling face you see is Rosanna Winters Lomas, Paul’s wife and the business manager. She is usually at the front desk and greets everyone like she has known them a lifetime. The staff makes sure clients are introduced to each other. Because of this, I have made many friends and feel extremely comfortable every time I go. I won’t say the exercises are easy, because if that were the case I wouldn’t be getting stronger, but the trainers talk to me and encourage me and always say positive things. I am doing exercises that I never would have believed a year ago I would be able to do.”
Doctors Wellness Center
One Monckton Blvd. Columbia, SC 29206
Located near Trenholm Plaza
Open Mon.-Thurs. 5 am to 8 pm; Fri. 5 am to 7 pm; Sat. 7 am to 1 pm; and Sun. 1 to 5 pm
To learn more about Doctors Wellness Center's Healthy in Twelve Program, click here to download a pdf.
Paul Lomas, PTA, CSCS, BS in Exercise Science
Rosanna Winters Lomas, BS in Social Work
Daniel Schrall, NCSA, CSCS, NASM, MES
Traci Barrilleaux, MS in Exercise Science
Exercise Physiologist and Nutrionist
Jaynie Jordan, BS in Exercise Science
Wesley Hardgrove, BS in Exercise Science
Melissa Stein, BS in Exercise Science
Jarrett Register, BS in Exercise Science
Erin Kesterson, LD, MS in Exercise Science