PINEHURST – When the director of the FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness speaks to a World Health Organization (WHO) gathering later this month, he’ll be sharing FirstHealth’s medical fitness success with a global audience.
John Caliri will participate in WHO Wellness Week, which will be held in New York City Sept. 16-21. The event will center on non-communicable diseases – including cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes – that are responsible for more than half of all deaths in the world.
During a Sept. 19 event hosted by Technogym, a producer of fitness and wellness equipment, Caliri will focus on the effect that lifestyle change, diet and physical activity can have on these diseases, especially noting FirstHealth’s success with its Exercise is Medicine (EiM) program.
“Lifestyle changes can make a difference, and physicians are making use of the information,” Caliri says.
The EiM program partners physicians in the FirstHealth service area with the Centers for Health & Fitness in an effort to help patients make the lifestyle changes needed to improve their health. More than 130 physicians from 16 different medical specialties currently refer patients to the program that includes a free exercise assessment by a professional exercise trainer and a free two-week membership to the Center for Health & Fitness of the patient’s choice.
Patients who choose to begin their prescribed exercise regimen at the Center for Health & Fitness-Pinehurst use Technogym equipment, which has the capacity to record exercise results that can be shared with the referring physician or used for self-motivation.
“I always believed this program would make a significant impact in the way that we could help doctors practice medicine by encouraging patients to include exercise in their lifestyle for the prevention of diseases,” Caliri says. “We give them a vehicle to do that.”
Recognized nationally as a model for medical fitness, the FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness are routinely invited to participate in programs hosted by the Medical Fitness Association (an affiliate of the American Hospital Association) and the American College of Sports Medicine.
According to Caliri, the WHO opportunity will allow FirstHealth to share its medical fitness success with a world audience.
“This is work we’re doing here in Pinehurst and Moore County,” he says. “This gives us a global opportunity to share what we are doing, because there will be people (at the event) from all over the world. We’ll get global recognition for taking this concept and figuring out a successful delivery vehicle.”
A New Jersey native, Caliri moved to North Carolina during his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. He joined FirstHealth of the Carolinas in 1997 as aquatics director, then became operations director and later regional operations director before being named director of all six FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness.
For more information on FirstHealth of the Carolinas’ Exercise is Medicine program, you can all (910) 715-1800 or (800) 213-3284. The FirstHealth Centers for Health & Fitness are located in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Raeford, Troy, Rockingham and Pembroke.