Strive to become healthier in new year

Published 4:13 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

We just couldnt stop it.

Time marched on and the new year rolled around anyway. While 2010 is now history, we at St. Lukes Hospital are excited about fresh opportunities and exciting possibilities this new year will bring.

Of course, Im going to use this first column of the new year to write about resolutions to be healthier (and why we should stick with them), but I also want to share that St. Lukes Hospital ended last year healthier than we have been in many years.

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For the first time in 13 years, St. Lukes Healthcare Inc made a profit.

By the end of our budget year (Sept. 2010), we achieved a 3.1 percent operating margin with a positive bottom line of $1 million. Balancing the challenges of an aging facility and a struggling economy, our board of trustees, senior leadership, physicians and staff are to be commended for their leadership and strategies that kept the hospital viable, albeit fragile.

As we look toward a new year, we are resolved to stay on this course for growth and sustainability. We believe this hospital is important to the health and welfare of this community, and we believe its our mission to provide the services and support needed to help our neighbors on the road to good health whether its counseling for better nutrition, providing technology for health screening or support and education for healthier choices.

If youre like most people, you probably have thought about making some New Years resolutions for 2011. At least 40 percent of adults make one or more resolutions each year, and at least two-thirds of them vow to change something unhealthy about themselves.

The most popular resolutions include: lose weight; get fit; eat right; quit smoking; pay off debt; save money; drink less alcohol and reduce stress.

Experts tell us that to avoid failure and frustration, we need to set realistic goals, make a plan of action to meet those goals, and stay motivated with a list of ways this resolution will improve our lives.

Once we resolve to travel the road to lose weight, quit smoking and get fit, we have to be prepared for the many roadblocks well encounter.

However, when it comes to improving our health, there are some things we shouldnt put off. With Lose Weight considered the No.1 Resolution, we realize we are facing a serious health epidemic. Research indicates that one in four or 93 million Americans struggle with obesity, and within the next five years, that number is expected to climb to 120 million.

The most prevalent obesity-related diseases include: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; diabetes; heart disease; stroke; gallbladder disease; osteoarthritis; sleep apnea and respiratory problems and some cancers. Being obese can have seriousand costly health consequences.

Another resolution high on many lists is to quit smoking. St. Lukes has offered classes to help people who have resolved to quit smoking. Freedom From Smoking is a comprehensive eight-week program of the American Lung Association that addresses topics of addiction; cessation products; tips, techniques and reasons to quit; benefits of quitting and weight and hunger control.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, as well as preventable disease in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 440,000 people die prematurely each year from smoking-related diseases.

Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits, reducing the risks for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general. Within minutes and hours after smokers inhale that last cigarette, their bodies begin a series of changes that continue for years. Among these health improvements are a drop in heart rate, improved circulation, and reduced risk of heart attack, lung cancer and stroke.

By quitting today, smokers can assure a healthier tomorrow. If youd like more information on the Freedom From Smoking program, please call 894-2408.

There are other services offered at St. Lukes Hospital to help with your resolution to be healthier in the New Year. These include annual screenings including blood pressure checks, mammograms, bone density screenings and colonoscopies to name a few.

So dont procrastinate. Its not too late to resolve to be healthier, smoke free, more active and pro-active about your health in 2011!

St. Lukes Hospital is a not for profit, acute care hospital affiliated with Carolinas Healthcare System of Charlotte, N.C., for specialized management expertise, experience with developing strong community-based clinical services, and participation in revenue and purchasing contracts. CHS is the largest healthcare system in the Carolinas and the third largest public system in the nation.