Hospitals Move beyond Treating Aches, Pains Elgin Health Care Centers Focus on Healthy Lifestyles
Kaplan, Allison, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Allison Kaplan Daily Herald Staff Writer
Ten kids, old enough to eat with their mouths shut but young enough to land a dollop of butter on an ear while preparing a roll, sit at a formal table in the basement of Provena St. Joseph Hospital's new Wellness Center.
These Elgin-area children are enrolled in the hospital's "Etiquette's Awesome!" class, which explains why they are delicately slicing breakfast bars with a fork and knife.
The better question, however, is why a hospital is teaching etiquette in the first place.
"Hospitals are looking at health from a larger perspective today. It's more than physical - there are social, emotional and occupational aspects too," said Lisa West, director of Provena St. Joseph's community education and wellness program, which in the past year has grown to a staff of more than five with a building of its own near the west side hospital.
"We're just beginning to scratch the surface," West said.
This year Elgin's two hospitals, Provena St. Joseph and Sherman, will take wellness education to a new level with a host of fresh classes from Head to Toe Hygiene for 9- to 12-year-olds to a cancer recovery course that involves exercise, support and diet.
"Five years ago, health prevention meant free immunizations," said Kat Rondeau, health promotions coordinator for Sherman Hospital. "The bottom line is, the only way we can continue to get a handle on health care costs is to think more about prevention and start at an earlier age."
Provena St. Joseph Hospital hired nurse Julie Lichtenberg to create a roster of children's wellness classes, such as Etiquette's Awesome!, which is mostly booked through March.
"We want people to really feel like, hey, they care about me staying well," Lichtenberg said.
Hospitals no longer reserve their concern for tonsils and broken bones. Etiquette, she said, can improve a youngster's self-esteem.
"It's about how you represent yourself - at an overnight party, at an interview for a baby-sitting job," Lichtenberg said. "You may never be the smartest kid in class or the best athlete, but you can feel good about yourself. You can know how to go in, shake a hand, stand up straight."
The Provena Wellness Center's objective, Lichtenberg said, is for one class to lead right into the next. Kids in the Kitchen teaches kitchen safety as well as how to read a recipe. …