‘Ekahi Health goes virtual with diabetes and heart disease programs

Helping people make lifestyle changes that will improve overall health

Sponsored by Ekahi Health

Programs at ‘Ekahi Health help people reverse the effects of heart disease and diabetes, which also helps to boost their immune systems in the process. However, the programs are designed around group sessions. ‘Ekahi has rapidly converted its programs from in person to virtual, using telehealth platforms.

“At Ekahi Health, we are centered on the belief that patient centered, team-based care, combined with education on how to make simple lifestyle choices can reverse the effects of most chronic conditions,” says Robert Walker, program director at ‘Ekahi Health. “We offer two team-based programs at our Waterfront location focused on heart disease and diabetes as well as team-based care with our physicians at Central Medical Center on the Kuakini campus.”

Its `Ekahi Ornish program is a 9-week lifestyle modification program focused on eating better, moving more, stressing less, and improving relationships to reduce or reverse the effects of heart disease. The ‘Ekahi Diabetes Management Program combines individual consultations with health professionals and group classes focused on lifestyle changes to help our participants effectively manage diabetes.

During the week of March 16, the state instructed Hawaii to limit public gatherings to groups of less than 10 people. While ‘Ekahi’s clinic isn’t a public gathering place, it does have group sessions for both ‘Ekahi Ornish and ‘Ekahi Diabetes. The situation was causing anxiety for participants.

“We made the decision to convert our programs from in person to virtual. Our clinical team was able to convert all sessions for ‘Ekahi Diabetes to virtual telehealth sessions the very next day,” Walker says. “The ‘Ekahi Ornish program was paused for 24 hours for the team to construct a virtual program and then resumed on Thursday the 19th. This was a completely amazing, rapid, and complex transformation.”

People with heart disease and diabetes are more susceptible to infections due to possibly having an immune system that is not functioning at its highest level. In fact, high stress situations can cause everyone’s immune system to be depressed.

“The COVID-19 situation is very stressful. People are asked to work from home, many people have lost their jobs, and we simply don’t know how long all of this is going to last,” says Walker. “Social distancing is the most effective way to ‘flatten the curve.’ However, for individuals with diabetes and heart disease it is important to do everything we can to boost their immune systems.”

For both the ‘Ekahi Ornish and the ‘Ekahi Diabetes programs,  ‘Ekahi helps people to understand how lifestyle changes can help their overall health. That includes both physical health and emotional well-being.

“We teach people how to change the way they respond to stress, how to safely exercise more, and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet, and the group aspect of our programs help people reduce their social isolation,” Walker says. “Together, these lifestyle changes help people be healthier and happier – which in these stressful times is super important.”

For more information: EkahiHealth.com