Scott Kashman_Lee Memorial Health System_Cape Coral HospitalSeveral years ago, Scott Kashman was out on a 15 mile training run with a local running group, preparing for a marathon. He struck up a conversation with a woman on pace with him, and with his own upcoming race in mind, asked, “What are you training for?”

“Just training for life,” she replied. She went on to relay that if she could keep up with the male runners in their group on any given Saturday, then her training could easily be adjusted to prepare for any race. She had already completed The Boston Marathon, was a full-time pediatrician and mother to two children.  Her life was full and balanced, and this training was just part of her preparation for daily life. The conversation and clarity of that 15 mile training run would stick with Kashman, who became Chief Administrative Officer of Cape Coral Hospital 2 years ago.

When Scott became part of Lee Memorial Health System and began his position in Cape Coral, he identified two issues:  the hospital had a lack of direction, and a loss of pride. Instead of going the route of teambuilding, or attending a retreat, one of the physicians said, “Kashman, we’ve retreated enough.  It’s time to advance.”  This advance led to a new focus as The Center for Community Health, Wellness & Well-Being. Renewed health priorities include prevention, healing, and connectivity. Kashman and his staff were focused on a very large goal:  creating an Optimal Healing Environment, as defined by the Samueli Institute’s evidence based framework. According to the Samueli Institute, an Optimal Healing Environment is “one that supports and stimulates patient healing by addressing the social, psychological, physical, spiritual, and behavioral components of healthcare and enabling the body’s capacity to heal itself.”  The primary goal of the Optimal Healing Environment’s philosophy is to make healing as important as curing. Recently, Cape Coral Hospital was one of three hospitals chosen to receive a grant from the Samueli Institute and participate in a study that will follow the hospital’s efforts to implement an Optimal Healing Environment and study the impact that environment has on key performance measures.

Along with developing their own personal health goals, Kashman, a marathoner and triathlete, and his dedicated staff developed a new campus plan with a focus on traditional and non-traditional approaches towards medicine. An overall wellness approach is their new direction, with the focus being on the patient, promoting a wellness lifestyle versus only treating a disease or list of symptoms, which Kashman referred to as “fix-it medicine.” They believe strongly that promoting overall health and wellness in the community will create a healthy environment for the staff and residents, which will then cause a reduction in the amount of patients they see for chronic conditions and diseases.

New enhancements are evolving on the Cape Coral Hospital campus and will support Lee Memorial Health System’s Wellness Initiatives. With the community’s support, the campus will feature walking, running, and biking paths with exercise stations; enhancements to the reflection pond which include a .2 mile pathway, a fountain and shaded tree line; and a Wellness & Therapy Education Park next to the outpatient rehabilitation and wellness/fitness center, which will be available for therapy patients, schools, and the general public to utilize. The Wellness Center will host a Weekly Farmer’s Market. Cape  Coral Hospital plans also include an update to the healing garden outside of the Women’s Care and Birthing Suites; updates to the healthy Wellness Centers Café and Pro Shop along with adding a Chocolatte’s healthy tea and coffee shop. The hospital has weekly walks with leaders and a trip around the pond. They created “Stair Wellness”, an exercise program that included painting and redesigning stairwells to promote walking; there are also plans for this program to be introduced at HealthPark Medical Center.

Traditional programs will be enhanced, and wellness program additions are being explored such as the Stanford Program, an evidence-based program which trains members of the community to teach nutrition (plate size, portioning, how to read labels) in an effort to manage chronic diseases such as obesity.  Another new program, CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program), was started for employees and saw improvements in BMI, weight, cholesterol and A1C levels.  In addition, Fitness Challenges in the community have been implemented.  The Fitness Challenge Program was originally started by Ingram’s Magazine in Kansas City. Kashman was one of the original participants in Kansas and offered a barbecue dinner to any organization that could beat the hospital staff and everyone who participated was part of the celebration.  Kashman was integral in bringing that program here, and local community fitness challenges included teams from the Chamber of Commerce and Edison National Bank.  Another recent wellness-centered program is the “Healthy Me, Healthy Lee” program.  In 2012, the “Healthy Me, Healthy Lee” program saw a nearly 70% improvement among participants in weight loss and fat loss.

Recently, bike paths in and around Cape Coral have been renamed and funded in a community-wide effort to promote health and fitness and help establish Cape Coral as a premier cycling destination. As part of their dedication to the community, Cape Coral Hospital was one of the first to contribute towards the building of the paths and is a key part of the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce Route. Kashman issued a personal challenge amongst those involved and offered a prize to the first person to complete all of the routes, which combined total over 90 miles.

Cape Coral is just one example of what is changing within the Lee Memorial Health System. Gulf Coast Medical Center was recently ranked #13 on a list of the most beautiful hospitals in the United States. In addition to their beautiful, serene hospital, the staff is working hard to promote health and wellness, with special focus on expanding and strengthening the neuroscience institute. In July, both hospitals hosted speaker Brendan Brazier, a vegan endurance athlete and nutrition expert, who spoke about the advantages of plant based health and the science behind a vegan lifestyle. Brazier focuses not only on the increased well-being of plant based nutrition, but the impact that plant based nutrition has on the environment. His philosophy ties into the wellness initiative and though a vegan lifestyle is not for everyone, his presentations were well-attended by staff and members of the community and an excellent example of one of the many ways Lee Memorial Health System is trying to build a healthier community.

As Lee Memorial Health System continues to implement their wellness initiative, the focus, as always, remains on the patient. Gone are the days of treating a symptom or a disease; today the patient as a whole is the focus, their well-being a priority, and supporting them in an environment that promotes their wellness with a staff that focuses on a patient’s whole self the goal. As was pointed out by a key staff member, this wellness initiative has been truly driven by the leadership of Scott Kashman, CAO of Cape Coral Hospital, and Josh DeTillio, CAO of Gulf Coast Medical Center. Both are competitive runners and triathletes, practice what they promote, and know the hard work, training, and dedication it takes to reach a goal. With their goal being to improve the health status of all of Southwest Florida, we should all take note and make certain we are training for life.