By Kristen Consilli
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 18, 2015
KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM
Dr. Kevin Lum, medical director of the ‘Ekahi Ornish program at ‘Ekahi Health System, gave a tour Tuesday of the center’s fitness facilities. ‘Ekahi’s grand opening is today, but Lum said 12 people already have been enrolled in the program and have lost a total of 150 pounds.
‘Ekahi Health System’s $2 million, 10,000-square-foot preventive health center opens to the public today at Waterfront Plaza in the space formerly occupied by the Hiroshi and Vino restaurants.
The center offers a 72-hour, nine-week program licensed by the Dean Ornish Institute that focuses on reversing the effects of heart disease.
It is one of only two providers including Straub Clinic & Hospital offering the program developed by Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute.
Ornish is credited with helping former President Bill Clinton improve his health through lifestyle changes.
Before its grand opening, the center enrolled its first group of 12 people, who have lost a total of 150 pounds.
Some have reduced diabetic medications or gone off hypertension medicines altogether, said Dr. Kevin Lum, medical director for the ‘Ekahi Ornish program.
“A lot of people when they come here, their goal is to get off medicines. Hopefully we can give them all the tools they’ll need to go on and move forward with their lifestyle changes,” he said. “If we can decrease your medications and we can decrease your risk for heart attack, hopefully we can prevent (hospital) admissions later on in life. We’re hoping for a decrease in expenditures in the future.”
The program teaches participants to modify their eating habits, manage stress, improve their fitness regimens and strengthen their personal support system. Participants work in teams to reach their health care goals, learning how to exercise properly at an on-site gym; control stress with yoga and mediation; and how to prepare a low-fat, plant-based diet. Each session is roughly four hours and includes one plant-based meal.
Participants must have certain medical conditions to qualify for the program. For Medicare recipients, conditions include previously having a heart attack, bypass surgery or a stent used to create a passage in narrow or weak arteries. Those with commercial insurance must have certain risk factors: age and things such as smoking, a family history of heart disease, hypertension, cholesterol or obesity. Hawaii Medical Service Association is the only commercial health insurer participating in the program.