NMC Commentary

What is Walk with A Doc?

The “Walk With A Doc” offering of NMC Lifestyle Medicine, provides the opportunity to actually take an informal walk and talk with the local physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who care for our community.  This casual time together, built around a healthy activity that nearly everyone can enjoy, allows for personal connections and shared time together – which help develop the strong relationships between provider and individual which are so important in healthcare.

Through the innovative vision of Dr. Elisabeth Fontaine, the Medical Director of Lifestyle Medicine and RiseVT, NMC is hosting a series of “Walk With A Doc” offerings this summer.  We meet every Tuesday evening at 5:30pm at the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center in St. Albans.  As the group assembles, the provider who is leading that evening’s walk typically speaks to a health-related topic for about five minutes. Then, the group sets out on a walk on Collins Perley’s walking path, with the provider available for questions and conversation as they go. These are ‘child friendly’ and “dog friendly” events and it is common to see a stroller and for our furry friends even a leash!  This is not a race, so individuals set their own pace and choose their own distances.  Most evenings, most of the group does two circuits of the path – but those who have to leave a bit earlier or who have walked far enough that evening are free to stop whenever they need to.  It is a stress-free, casual time that connects providers with community members and allows for routine questions to be answered and friendships to be formed.  This is about community and being together.

Dr. Fontaine herself kicked off this summer’s “Walk With A Doc” sessions back on May 15 and spoke to the importance of taking time for healthy physical activity like walking as part of a busy day. We have scheduled these sessions for 5:30pm in hopes of catching most people after work and before dinner or evening plan begin, though we understand no one time is convenient for everyone. The next week, Dr. Deanne Haag from Northwestern Pediatrics in Enosburg, spoke about strategies to make walking in inclement weather pleasant as the group dodged the rain drops that evening. Yes, these sessions do go forward ‘rain or shine’ within reason, as Dr. Haag recommended umbrellas, rain paints, and waterproof shoes for walking in the rain but cautioned against venturing out if thunder or lightning were present.  Last week, Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Denise Durant spoke about preventing osteoporosis and the group enjoyed a beautiful evening for a walk. Tonight, with this column scheduled to run on Tuesday, June 5 in the St. Albans Messenger, Dr. Stacy Strouse of Northwestern Pediatrics will be our walking leader.  The rest of this summer’s sessions feature: Nurse Practitioner Jack Visco of Northwestern Primary Care on June 12; Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Rob Beattie on June 19; Pediatrician Dr. Laura Bellstrom on June 26; Dr. Judy Fingergut of Northwestern Primary Care on July 10; Physician Assistant Katja Von Sitas of Northwestern Obstetrics & Gynecology on July 17; Dr. Toby Sadkin of St. Albans Primary Care on July 24; and finally, Dr. Fontaine of Northwestern Lifestyle Medicine on July 31.  Please watch for Northwestern Medical Center’s posts on Facebook about the topics for each week as the summer progresses.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about our community and our State is how accessible our elected officials and community leaders, including our medical professionals, are. They live, work, play, and learn right alongside each of us.  I am glad to see “Walk With A Doc” building on that in new ways to foster learning, enjoyment, connection, and shared physical activity.  It’s healthy and rewarding, and I hope you will join in.  Even better, join in and bring a friend or relative or co-worker along!  These are great evening walks on a wonderful free community resource at Collins Perley.  Please join the fun and “Walk With A Doc!”

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer