Chinese delegation learns about wellness at Seven Oaks   

Chinese delegation
The Chinese delegation, along with Wellness Institute and Seven Oaks Hospital staff, and student interpreters.

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Friday, July 4, 2014

Thirty hospital executives and senior government officials from China were at Seven Oaks Hospital this week to learn how its approach to health and wellness can be adapted and used in China.

The Chinese delegates visited the Wellness Institute from July 2 to 4 as the first step toward reproducing the made-in-Winnipeg model for hospitals in China.

The visitors are from the China Hospital Association's Health Management Professional Committee, which represents 5,000 of the country's 20,000 hospitals. They were attending a symposium and learning about wellness programming and how it is delivered.

“It’s a very busy schedule they’re following,” said Casie Nishi, Executive Director of the Wellness Institute. “They are learning about our risk-screening and how it is used to manage chronic diseases, and how we are connected with Seven Oaks Hospital and its patients.”

The Chinese health-care sector is modernizing rapidly and its decision makers have fanned out around the globe looking for the best models for health-care delivery. The relationship with Wellness Institute started when a smaller delegation visited Seven Oaks to look at innovations in its Emergency Department.

They also toured Wellness Institute and were impressed with the way Seven Oaks has integrated a self-sufficient non-profit enterprise for illness prevention and health promotion with a publicly funded hospital.

“The wellness model is a new concept for the Chinese,” said Michael Zhang, a decision support analyst with the Winnipeg Health Region and adjunct professor of applied computer science at the University of Winnipeg.

“When people in China get a chronic disease, their doctor may tell them to exercise, but not for how long, or what type of exercise,” said Zhang, who, who facilitated the original connection to the delegation. “So we’re teaching them our models.”

While at the Wellness Institute, the delegation also watched classes in action, took part in cooking demonstrations, tried hands-on activities such as pilates and TRX exercises and went through a basic health check with institute staff.

“What we do differently is that we know people won’t stop smoking or eating food with high sugar or salt in it just because we tell them to,” said Nishi. “Healthy behaviour change only comes about with guidance on our part, and participation on the part of the person who needs to deal with chronic disease before it starts and also while they’re being treated.”

The partnership between the Wellness Institute and the China Hospital Association is expected to be continued in the future, said Zhang.

The Wellness Institute has received previous accolades for its innovative approach to integrating lifestyle and fitness with health care to manage and prevent chronic disease but this the first time another country has asked to adapt and reproduce its program model.

chinese delegation

Wellness Institute dietitian Carolyn Somerville (from left) and Seven Oaks Hospital dietitian Mavis Lam watch as Wellness Institute ED Casie Nishi and Michael Zhang introduce a healthy cooking seminar.

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