An ounce of prevention

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

You’ve heard it said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, at St. Luke’s, we’ve taken that adage to heart, lungs, colons, breasts, prostates and more. We know that people living in rural areas are more likely to die prematurely than those in urban areas because life-saving healthcare in rural areas is not as accessible as it is in metropolitan areas. St. Luke’s has broken that trend. Outfitted with world-class medical staff, gold-standard CT, best-in-class 3D mammography and echo lab and a modernized laboratory, our focus has turned to preventative medicine and early detection.

Because of our focus on wellness in all areas, St. Luke’s has accepted membership by invitational only to the National Health Systems Council for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. This membership is quite an accomplishment for our community and team as we join industry leaders like the Mayo Clinic and Mass General to shape wellness and preventative health nationwide. St. Luke’s is the only independent Critical Access Hospital in the country to receive this invitation.

Preventive medicine at St. Luke’s is a directive that focuses on preventing disease in our community and those living here. More than reducing the risk of illness, preventive medicine is committed to reducing disability and death. Preventative health detects problems before they cause other issues or become more challenging to treat.

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Advances in preventive medicine include knowledge, technologies, and surgical techniques. And with the tools now in place at St. Luke’s, our dream of a healthier community is becoming a reality. Our new preventative screenings include annual 3D screening mammography, bone density screening, colonoscopy, calcium score testing, fall risk assessment, high-risk breast cancer screening, lung cancer screening and PSA testing.

Most of us go to the doctor when we feel ill or need treatment for a specific medical condition. Preventing severe diseases before they happen is one of the best ways to protect your health. Unfortunately, studies show only 8% of adults in the United States 35 years and older received the preventive care recommended. Below are a few examples of how preventative screenings have helped local community members:

  • Michelle Fortune:“I went for a DEXA scan following the education segment on osteoporosis at the recent Foundation event. I’m 51, and my mother has a history of rheumatoid arthritis, but I’ve had no symptoms or known issues. The test revealed that I have mild to moderate osteopenia. I am now being treated with a regimen of supplements, diet, and exercise to help avoid osteoporosis. The test took only fifteen minutes and was painless.”
  • Anonymous: “I read Michelle Fortune’s article on the benefits of the calcium score test. And while I felt fine and had no symptoms, I decided to have the test. The test was quick and painless, but I learned that two of my cardiac arteries had 90% blockages and would soon have life-saving double bypass surgery. Without the calcium score test at St. Luke’s, I could have had a cardiac event from which I could not recover.”
  • Nancy Holland: “I never smoked, so to think about lung cancer was not a concern. I had no symptoms, no coughing or shortness of breath. As part of a wellness visit, my primary care physician ordered a routine chest screening, which I thought nothing of. From there, things happened so quickly that it still seems unreal. Considered to be Stage 1, it turned out to be Stage 4 with partial right lung removal and numerous lymph nodes. Because of a seemingly routine screening, I am cancer-free today and delighted to serve on the St. Luke’s Hospital Foundation Board.”  

Now that you know more about preventive medicine and how it benefits you and our community, I hope it’s clear how important prevention is to our health. While all providers incorporate some preventative medicine into their practice, our primary care physicians are positioned on the frontline to help keep us healthy and avoid preventable diseases. 

Some of our screenings are free of charge for those without insurance and who meet requirements set by the granting foundations. Grant funding is available for free calcium scoring exams for uninsured Polk and Rutherford County residents (provider order required) and free 3D mammograms for uninsured Polk County residents (no provider order required). To learn more, visit StLukesNC.org and click on the sliders at the top of the home page.

If you have a healthcare topic of interest or want to learn more about St. Luke’s Hospital, please note me at Michelle.Fortune@slhnc.org. Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or visit our website at StLukesNC.org.