By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Region – Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester has joined the national program “Walk with a Doc” which gives patients an opportunity to talk with doctors and nurses in a casual setting while walking toward better health.
Hospital staff, administrators and participants gathered at a special walk event Jan. 20 to promote the program. Steven MacLauchlan, president and CEO of Saint Vincent Hospital, and Chief Medical Officer Douglas Waite, MD, were present to show support and join the walk.
This program was started in Columbus, Ohio, in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir and has now expanded throughout the country. The program began in September at Saint Vincent’s. In the warmer months, participants walk at Dean Park in Shrewsbury, but during the winter, they move indoors to the hospital atrium’s walking track.
“The program is so beneficial on many different levels,” said Cheryl Forbes, practice development manager for Tenet Physician Resources. “It provides exercise but also gives patients a chance to ask questions of nurses and doctors who can give them general advice about health concerns.”
The walks take place Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m. and everyone is welcome. Forbes said there are some participants with disabilities, such as visual impairments or needing a cane or walker.
“But everyone goes at their own pace,” she said. “You do as much as you can.”
Walker Anna Gentile, who has walked on her own for years in the city, said she is grateful for the companionship of the group.
“I love it,” she said. “It is good for me and I get to meet so many nice people.”
She added that she has some medical issues, so she was happy to be able to walk indoors during the winter.
Walks are led by primary care physicians Dr. Nandana Kansra, Dr. David Larrabee and Dr. Sapna Savant.
“I always talk to my patients about diet and exercise, but I just didn’t want to be preaching it,” Kansra said. “I wanted to actually participate in it with them.”
She said she encourages her patients to join and many were participants in the Jan. 20 walk.
“It helps keep them motivated during the winter months, when activity often slows down,” Kansra noted.
She added that during one hour, participants average about 5-6,000 steps or 2 to 2.5 miles depending on their pace.
First-time walker Lenny McGuire, market operations director at Tenet Physician Resources, said he intends to keep coming each week.
“It is the perfect time of year to start – after the new year,” he said. “People want to start the year getting healthy.”
“Walk with a Doc” meets every Saturday at 9 a.m. in lower level of the atrium at Saint Vincent’s. Participants should plan on arriving early to register. For more information, email Forbes at [email protected].