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Wellness conference draws crowd

July 09, 2007

More than 100 people gathered for Washington County Hospital's Nutrition and Wellness Conference on Wednesday, June 20. Focusing on wellness across the lifespan and prevention of chronic disease, the conference featured various speakers, healthy meals, some light physical activity and roundtable discussions.

"The Nutrition and Wellness Conference was an opportunity for community members to network and gather information and resources to take back to their organizations to implement a healthy lifestyle program," said Carol Grove, educator in the Jack and Anna Hershey Education Center at Washington County Hospital and coordinator of the conference.

Earl Stoner, Washington County Health Department health officer, presented information on the prevalence of obesity in Washington County and its affect on diseases and health conditions. He was followed by Dr. David Solberg, who said, "The greatest threats to our lives are caused by lifestyle choices." Solberg reported that 95 percent of being overweight or obese is not genetic. He said that poor nutrition cannot only cause obesity, but can also cause heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, malnutrition and osteoporosis.

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Destiny Moats, a certified medical assistant, said that she recently started a diabetes class at Newman, Wooster, Kass, Bradford, McCormack & Hurwitz, a physician practice in Hagerstown. She said that the conference has helped her "learn how everything ties together. Obesity affects so many things."

Windows of Opportunity: Obesity Prevention in Childhood was presented by Dr. Alan Lake. He proposed that there are various windows of opportunity to prevent obesity in children starting from prenatal care through adolescence.

Darlene Suffecool of Clear Spring said that Lake provided practical tips that she can take back to the after-school program where she works. "My goal is to improve snack time and implement at least 15 minutes of physical activity a day in the program."

Keynote speaker Lorraine Bosse-Smith, a leadership consultant, national speaker and fitness professional, presented A Healthier World Starts with You. She provided steps individuals can take to achieve and maintain good health. "It's never too late, no matter what your age, to make a change," she said. Bosse-Smith added that it is important to choose an exercise program that will work for you as an individual, something that fits your style that you can enjoy and stick with.

Marie Byers, president of Discovery Station at Hagers-town Inc., and chair of the Washington County Physical Fitness Council, said that the conference provided information that can "make a difference in both longevity and quality of life. It's an opportunity to learn how to have the best body and best health you can."

Becki Weir, program coordinator in the Jack and Anna Hershey Education Center at Washington County Hospital, said that the conference was unique because it focused on steps the people can start taking today to make a change, and modeled those actions. "We provided a healthy breakfast and lunch to attendees, and everyone was invited to take a group walk around the campus at Robinwood Medical Center over a portion of the lunch break," she said.

In the afternoon, participants met in small groups based on interests, such as how to increase physical activity, affordable options for healthy nutrition and how to motivate others. The conference was concluded with a discussion about the Nutrition and Physical Activity Partnership of Washington County's community campaign, Health for Every Body. The campaign is slated to begin this fall and interested members of the audience were encouraged to become involved.

Peggy Hardinge, perioperative first surgical assistant at Washington County Hospital, said the conference left her feeling excited. "There is an extensive list of surgeries that can be avoided with proper nutrition and good lifestyle choices. It is a passion of mine to become involved in the community campaign to spread the messages that were shared here today," Hardinge said.

The Jack and Anna Hershey Education Center at Washington County Hospital provides a variety of events, classes, and seminars to the public throughout the year. Chartered in 1904 and opened in 1905, Washington County Hospital is accredited as an acute care facility by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. It includes not only inpatient and outpatient services but also the John R. Marsh Cancer Center, Total Rehab Care at Robinwood and the Urgent Care Center at Robinwood and at the Sylvania Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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