Community Wellness Center:
A community effort to prevent diabetes, Heart Attack, and Stroke

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Mission

The mission of the Community Wellness Center at STEC is to advance patient health and chronic disease prevention in the underserved communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury, three of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. Our fundamental belief is that cardiovascular wellness and the prevention of disorders such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension can only work in underserved neighborhoods if (a) we go to where our patients live and not ask them to travel to highly “medicalized” tertiary care hospitals; and (b) we provide a committed long-term physical presence that allows us to be reliable part of the community we serve rather than simply occasional visitors. As such, the Community Wellness Center at STEC is specifically designed to bring directly to our patients innovative community based programs focusing on the prevention of hyperglycemia and obesity, on nutritional support and “food education”, on heart-healthy blood pressure reduction strategies, on preventive approaches to the management of hyperlipidemia, and where appropriate, and on environmental triggers and thus stabilization of asthma. Importantly, these patient healthy goals link together under one roof through activities such as our Wednesday Wellness programs that incorporate formal gym and exercise classes with a wide ranging curriculum of health promotion and weight reduction activities targeted to patients of all ages so that we reach both older parents, their younger caregivers at home, and youth. We also see violence prevention as a core component of any health and wellness strategy in our community, and thus the Wellness Center at STEC also runs in coordinated fashion with youth programs such as Volley Against Violence, supported by the Boston Police Department. In sum, the Community Wellness Center at STEC provides a transformative way to bring health prevention, wellness education, and exercise programs where we know it is most needed – in the very neighborhoods where so many of our at-risk patients live.

A Ground-Breaking Start: The New Fitness Center is Open

In 2013, Sportsmen’s broke ground on the first phase of a two-level health, wellness, and education center which will more than double our capacity to host education and enrichment programs and provides us an “under one roof” space from which to conduct our wellness and health prevention curriculum. Importantly, the ground floor includes a new fitness center which forms a core facility for our programs in obesity reduction, nutrition, and the prevention of diabetes and heart disease.

The fitness center is now open to the community, and has already had a transformative effect. Wrote one parent:

“I don’t have the budget nor the time to work out in a gym. But I need and want to work out! Each day after school I bring girls to Sportsmens for tennis clinic and either watch them or run errands. Sportsmens provided the perfect gym for me. Their clinic time now has transformed from me driving around in busy rush hour traffic to the quiet enclosed work out space, the new STEC gym. Not only am I feeling better, I’m making friends, mothers and fathers of the other players. And together we are taking time to care for ourselves amidst our too-busy Boston working parenting life.”

Brigham and Women’s at Sportsmen’s: A Sustained Long-Term Commitment

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is world-renowned in virtually every area of adult medicine. As a major teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s is dedicated to serving the needs of its local and global community.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital believes that providing residents of the Blue Hill Corridor of Boston with preventive forums on topics such as nutrition, weight reduction, exercise, blood pressure control and diabetes prevention in a non-clinical environment, together with access to free cardiovascular exercise equipment and classes will facilitate community wellness and begin the process of promoting health where it matters most – in the community where our most at-risk patients live. Further, we believe that Sportsmen’s is uniquely positioned to deliver this programming, leveraging their existing connection to hundreds of parents, adult members and local residents, through a newly initiated program called Wellness Wednesdays.

Come see the schedule of events for the coming months, and meet the Brigham volunteers helping us to help you.

Why Is Sportsmen’s Focusing on Health and Wellness?

Sportsmen’s sits in a neighborhood confronting ever increasing levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Yet, prevention research has repeatedly shown that exercise, diet, and smoking cessation can dramatically reduce the risk of these events. That same research also shows that preventive interventions and preventive education are most effective when it occurs on-site where our most at-risk patients live, not at highly medicalized hospital and tertiary care centers. We also believe heart-healthy wellness habits must be established early in life, and thus we extend our wellness program across all age groups, including our many youth-based programs. Violence prevention is also a core component of our health and wellness strategy, and thus the Wellness Center at STEC also runs in coordinated fashion with our Volley Against Violence evening programs supported by the Boston Police Department

Equally important, the Wellness Center and its affiliated fitness center provides a healthy, active option for parents as they wait for their children to finish classroom tasks and lessons. Those same adults often serve as caregivers both for older and younger generations in our community, and thus are targeted by our Wellness Wednesday fitness and health education programs. These new programs are crucial for adults in our community, where high blood pressure and diabetes are largely undiagnosed, yet are major causes of morbidity and mortality. As part of this new initiative, nurses and allied health professionals from Boston’s renowned Brigham and Women’s Hospital will conduct regular on-site community education programs addressing obesity, nutrition, smoking cessation and exercise—all issues of great importance for the health of our urban community.