When is a walk more than just a walk? When it’s led by local doctors and clinicians and brings together participants from all walks of life. Coffey Health System’s twelve-week “Walk With a Doc” program did all this and exceeded expectations.
Throughout the summer, participants of all ages and abilities gathered every Thursday evening at the Burlington High School track. Ten CHS doctors and nurse practitioners kicked off each walk with a brief talk about health-related topics.
The twelve-week series drew an average of 82 walkers to the track each week. High school students attending pre-season conditioning joined Walk with a Doc for two weeks. 380 individuals participated at least once.
“After being cooped up for so long because of the pandemic, this was a great opportunity to get people outside and moving again,” said CHS Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Clingenpeel.
Seven people were on the track all twelve weeks: Jon Hotaling, Diana Thomsen, Norma Hess, Ralph Hess, Donna Bauer, Yolanda Guidry, and Judy Reese.
Carla Hoch, Amy Osner, Vicki Boyle, Tiffani Majors, and Randall VanValkenburg missed only one week.
For some, like Sara Grogg, the program provided motivation to start walking.
“Walk With a Doc for one hour a week, get some relevant medical advice, see some old friends, make some new friends, and get a little exercise. It is worth your time and effort. For me, it became much more than that,” said Sara Grogg. “I recently retired and have the temptation to spend my days ‘relaxing’. Walk With a Doc (gave me) the incentive to get me out of my chair and moving nearly every day. I (was) aiming for one mile by the end of the program with the long-term goal of a 5k.”
For Diana Thomsen, it was a family experience.
“My daughter and I went to the first one and were hooked,” Thomsen said. “It was great to learn something from one of the providers and also to see what creative way different departments can entertain us each week. We then got to walk with family and friends and talk and laugh with the benefit of getting some exercise.”
CHS departments were invited to “Adopt a Walk” by selecting a theme and providing water, refreshments, and fun. Secret judges completed scoresheets each week and declared a tie between the business office (two walks with 80’s and luau themes) and environmental services (cowboys and cowgirls).
“Walk With a Doc provided a fun activity for our staff who—it turns out—are very creative and just a little competitive,” Clingenpeel said.
Departments were also rewarded for their level of participation over all twelve weeks. The business office had the highest percentage, along with quality and social services.
Walk with a Doc was started by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, OH. He has walked with patients and community members every weekend since 2005. More than 500 chapters now span the globe, including 18 Kansas locations.
To encourage Kansans to begin walking, the Kansas Hospital Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas generously paid participation fees for all interested hospitals in the state. Having heard of the fun we were having, representatives from both organizations actually came to Burlington to participate!