The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 1, 2014

Hospitals focus on preventive care, wellness

Randy Griffith

JOHNSTOWN — Recent achievements at Conemaugh Health System and Windber Medical Center illustrate the local medical community’s growing commitment to preventive care and wellness, which also were important considerations in drafting the Affordable Care Act.

In partnership with Alternative Community Resource Program, Conemaugh will hold four comprehensive health screenings in rural health centers to identify at-risk residents and encourage lifestyle modification.

The screenings are funded with support from Conemaugh Health Foundation and a $51,560 grant through the Highmark Foundation’s “Addressing Community Health Needs Though Hospital Partnerships” initiative.

Just across the Somerset County line at Windber Medical Center, the Connecticut-based Planetree organization has recognized the hospital’s commitment to holistic care with Windber’s renewal as Pennsylvania’s only Planetree Designated Patient-Centered Hospital.

Planetree leaders considered more than 60 criteria and components of a patient’s health care experience, including interactions with providers, access to information, family involvement, physical environment, food and nutrition, spirituality, arts and entertainment, and integrative therapies.

“This achievement is a true testament to the staff and leadership at this special hospital, each of whom has played a crucial role in integrating the philosophy of patient-centered care into their day-to-day work,” Planetree President Susan Frampton said.

Conemaugh’s health screenings address areas identified in the Community Needs Assessment conducted with the United Way of the Laurel Highlands. It shows high rates of smoking and obesity and noted a need for education on a healthy lifestyle.

“By identifying at-risk individuals for heart disease and diabetes, we are able to provide on-site education of the disease process and information about programs at Conemaugh Health System to help individuals make healthy lifestyle changes for themselves and their families,” said Michelle George, cardiovascular diabetes disease prevention project coordinator.

“By partnering with ACRP we expect to increase awareness of the dangers of an unhealthy lifestyle.”

Screenings highlight the dangers of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

Participants will be encouraged to meet with Conemaugh‘s experts and discuss personal lifestyle choices and positive health practices.

More information about upcoming wellness events is available by calling 534-1246.

Randy Griffith covers health care for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at