Sponsored by Rochester Clinic
The Lotus flower grows in the mud and blooms clean and pure. That is the concept Mei Liu and Dr. Jengyu Lai wanted to portray when they created their non-profit organization, The Lotus Health Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to provide evidence-based education and preventative services to empower individuals to successfully manage or prevent chronic illness and decrease medical costs through healthy lifestyle management, resulting in decreased needs for medical interventions. In other words, to educate and bring the community together around one common purpose: living a fuller, healthier life.
Mei and Dr. Lai started Rochester Clinic in 2010 with the dream of providing well-rounded integrated care at the primary care level. Mei has a background in healthcare administration and has her MBA. She worked on the finance aspect of a non-profit health agency and was frustrated with the way the cost of healthcare was always increasing. She noticed that employers of both small and large companies had to choose between higher insurance premiums for their employees or not provide them with the best plan. Dr. Harmon, a retired family practice physician from Mayo, joined the clinic in 2012. He was passionate about lifestyle medicine and wanted a way to providing this service to his patients. With his idea and the clinic’s passion, in 2015, they were able to implement an affordable way to treat the root cause of the disease, not just the symptoms, in the form of the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP).
The program has been a huge success, and the team wants to provide this lifestyle medicine and whole body wellness to the entire community. Their goal, in partnership with other community businesses, is to create a happier and healthier community. They plan to work with grocery stores, farmers, schools, public health entities and health care providers to spread the word of lifestyle medicine, a way to be healthy and live fuller and longer lives with lifestyle changes.
Rochester Clinic sees many patients of varying illnesses and ages, and all types of people have gone through their program: young, old, diabetics, those on multiple medications and those with limited ability to move. The change in these participants after completing CHIP has been dramatic, to say the least. Mei and Dr. Lai have seen people with diabetes decrease their insulin within four weeks of starting the program. They have seen a single participant take these changes home and affect their entire family. They have seen people with no hope for a longer and healthier life add years to their life. They have seen people with arthritis have better joint movement and decreased swelling. All participants have lost weight, not as the focus of the program, but as a positive side effect. Participants are visibly excited when talking about the program, explaining something new they learned, sharing an anecdote about a new food they tried or talking about how many steps they took that day. To see the affect this program has already made is truly inspiring.
However, the vision of providing this service was a financial challenge. The Lotus Health Foundation gives Mei and Dr. Lai more options to look for public/grant funding to achieve their goals. In fact, the foundation just received the Catalyst Initiative Seed Grant from the George Family Foundation. This grant will partially support two different projects. The first project is to provide lifestyle medicine education to University of Minnesota Rochester faculty and students. The second project is a week-long lifestyle medicine health fair featuring world renowned lifestyle medicine leaders, including Dr. Hans Diehl, founder of CHIP. He is the clinical director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute in Loma Linda, Calif., and Clinical Professor in the Deptartment of Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine of Loma Linda University.
The grant also supported the recruitment of a plant-based, health conscious Registered Dietitian. They are very proud to have Kayley Gamm, RDN, join their team and spread their vision. Kayley comes to the clinic after working all over the world as a Registered Dietitian, from Illinois to Oregon and New Zealand to Ethiopia. She brings the opportunity to incorporate more programs within Rochester Clinic, including a diabetes education program.