This past spring, my team and I went to work to set up the first of our free 15-Minute Physicals. At these events, we were able to work with patients on a large scale. While 15 minutes may not seem like much face-to-face time, you’d be surprised by how much information you can learn about your body. My team and I were also surprised by what we learned about you.
The first stop of our national tour took us to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. With help from our friends at Temple University Medical Center, I and nearly 100 physicians, medical students, nurses, and volunteers met with over 1,000 patients in one day. Its success prompted us to schedule more events, including two upcoming 15-Minute Physicals on September 5 in Washington, DC, and on September 7 in Pittsburgh.
We asked each person to answer a series of health-related questions. We wanted to know about their eating habits, sleeping habits, smoking habits, and exercise habits. We also tested and measured each patient’s blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, and waist size – knowing these key numbers can save your life.
In Philadelphia, nearly 270 of the patients we saw did not have health insurance – and may not have been able to see a doctor otherwise. But that’s not all we found: Almost 100 people learned that they were either diabetic or pre-diabetic and needed to change their lifestyle immediately and for the better.
With the help of Alere and Practice Fusion’s medical technologies, we were able to compile a health report card for Philadelphia, and present it to Mayor Michael A. Nutter in hopes of eliciting changes that could improve the city’s overall health and well-being.
For example, we discovered that nearly 60% of our 1000 patients reported eating less than the recommended servings of 3 to 5 servings of fruit a day – a vital source of antioxidants that can help reduce blood pressure and nutrients that can boost the immune system. Furthermore, over 70% of those same patients reported eating little to no fiber; eating fiber is a great way to fight obesity, bad cholesterol, and even colon cancer.
More than half of our Philadelphia patients also reported not exercising for the recommended amount of time of 30 minutes, three times a week. We shared easy ways to incorporate exercise into a busy lifestyle: climbing stairs two at a time, which burns more calories, or marching in place during commercial breaks. Not only will these small changes help you drop the weight, they can also help you fight high blood pressure and diabetes.
Most of our patients that day appeared healthy on the outside; however, their key numbers proved otherwise. One woman’s incredibly high blood pressure prompted us to send her to the emergency room before she went into multi-organ failure. By coming to our clinic that day, she saved her own life. Another gentleman also needed to go to the emergency room because we discovered he was severely anemic. His decision to take charge of his own body got him the emergency treatment he needed.
From there, we traveled to Tampa, Florida to work with the Florida Hospital System and to Portland, Oregon to work with Oregon Health & Science University. We provided more physicals, heard more of your stories, and helped more people. It’s days like these that remind me of why I became a physician – to empower you with the right information to make the right choices.
If you live in or near Washington, DC or Pittsburgh, I urge you to discover the key numbers that may change your life!
And, if these locations are not convenient for you, you can find a federally-funded health center near you.