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'Walk With a Doc' takes office outdoors
'Walk With a Doc' takes office outdoors
By SUE REID
The leaves were starting to turn last fall when Solon resident Deborah Gallagher said she first embarked on a unique sort of morning walk through the Cleveland Metroparks.
A registered nurse, Ms. Gallagher took part in the new "Walk with a Doc" program, a concept she first heard of through Healthy Solon. It involved weekly walks in which doctors answer general health questions and talk about wellness-related topics.
"I thought, 'What a cool idea,' to walk and be able to ask a doctor any questions you might have," she said.
Ms. Gallagher, who has mild asthma, said she always was interested in becoming more fit. "Walking in the Metroparks is a challenging kind of walk, not like a city block," she said.
Ms. Gallagher said that when she first went on one of the Saturday morning excursions, she was inspired. She has taken part ever since.
Upon her initial involvement, she met Dr. Richard Kratche, a family physician who practices at Cleveland Clinic's Solon Family Health Center, and is medical director of the clinic's new Twinsburg Family Health and Surgery Center. He led the walk and discussed interesting topics, Ms. Gallagher said.
"I was so impressed with him," Ms. Gallagher said of Dr. Kratche. "He was more into wellness prevention."
Dr. Kratche, of South Russell, brought this program to Cleveland for his patients. The Walk with a Doc will launch again this spring, with walks held each Saturday at 8:30 a.m. at the Squaw Rock picnic area in Bentleyville. Dr. Kratche said the concept for the program, which is open to the public and not just patients at the Clinic, originated in Columbus with Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist. He had the vision of expanding the program nationally and last year brought it to Cleveland Clinic.
The program's mission is to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages and to reverse the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle to improve the health and well being of the country.
Dr. Kratche said although the program was piloted at Cleveland Clinic Solon Family Health Center, he promotes it throughout the Cleveland area.
"I'm really thrilled we now have Walk with a Doc programs going on in a variety of locations all around Cleveland," he said. Both the Willoughby Hills and Brunswick Family Health Centers have local walks, as well as the clinic's main campus and Beachwood Family Health Center.
On the 1.5-mile to 3-mile excursion, doctors and patients discuss a variety of topics. One week, the topic was vaccinations, Ms. Gallagher said, and who should be getting the H1N1. Another morning, the group talked about the number of people who are Vitamin D deficient. When the group walked inside Beachwood Place during the winter, it discussed healthy options from the menu choices in the food court.
"It's a phenomenal opportunity and it's just fun," Ms. Gallagher said.
Solon resident Dennis Zuckerman said he enjoys taking part in the walk each week. "It's new people I'm meeting," he said. Mr. Zuckerman said he found interesting the variety of topics discussed. "Last week, we talked about obesity," he said.
"We've talked about practically every subject you can imagine," Dr. Kratche said. "These walks are honestly fun. I enjoy the interaction with patients and I have very good conversations."
In his practice, Dr. Kratche said, he sees the whole range of disease across all generations and the devastation caused by lack of exercise and weight gain.
"I have worked hard in my general practice to encourage exercise and weight control because I very clearly see the consequences of not doing that," he said.
Dr. Kratche said the program will take place every Saturday. "As long as there is no lightning, we'll be there."
Along with Dr. Kratche, Dr. Donald Ford, medical director of Cleveland Clinic's Solon Family Health Center, leads weekly walks, as well as Dr. Dan Sullivan, an internist, also at Cleveland Clinic's Solon Family Health Center.
"Walk with a Doc is essentially an unbudgeted program completely run on volunteers," Dr. Kratche said. "It's a small group of physicians who have found this to be a fun and enjoyable experience." Also integral to the efforts behind this program, he said, is Carrie Wolf, patient service representative at Cleveland Clinic's Chagrin Falls Health Center in South Russell.
"She has been the glue that has held the program together," he said.
There is no cost for participants to take part in the program.
"The program is open to anybody and everybody," Dr. Kratche said. "People can bring their pets, family members and kids.
"It's the right thing to do," Dr. Kratche said of his participation in the program. "As a doctor, we are about promoting health, and we treat disease.
"This is a way to be proactive and get on the right side of the equation," Dr. Kratche said.
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