Local attorney David Guerry was overweight and out of shape the first time he went to the Executive Wellness Center at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. He also had high blood pressure and elevated levels of bad cholesterol.
Six years later, at age 50, Guerry is slim, fit and in significantly better health—thanks to lifestyle changes he made as a result of that first visit to the center.
“The trick for me was having a doctor whom I could trust to sit down and talk to me in terms I could understand about my level of risk for disease because of my weight and health problems,” Guerry says. “He showed me graphs on the computer. It was something tangible that I could understand.”
As its name implies, the Executive Wellness Center is a one-stop shop for busy professionals. It offers a complete and comprehensive physical exam and assessment in just a half-day’s time. Dr. Curtis Chastain, who founded and runs the program, also gives his patients an analysis of their risk factors and tells them where they have to make changes, all with an eye toward efficiency.
“This is geared to people for whom time is money,” Chastain says. “They don’t have time to waste in a doctor’s office, and when they come here they can get everything done at one time.”
Patients pay a premium for that service—between $2,500 and $3,000—and they have to pay up front. But it’s well worth it for those who don’t mind shelling out a little extra. They get a complete physical exam as well as the results and a comprehensive analysis of themselves in five hours or less.
An appointment starts at 7 a.m. When a patient walks in the door, he immediately gets his blood drawn so the lab work can begin right away. [More than 90% of the patients at the Executive Wellness Center are men.] From there, he goes through a battery of tests and screenings including a body fat analysis, a vascular analysis, a thyroid cancer test and a complete physical. After that, he hops on the treadmill for a stress test that can detect cardiac problems or irregularities. By 9:30 a.m., most of the testing is done, and Chastain sits down with his patient to review the test results and lab work, which has been analyzed on site.
A big factor behind the program’s success is its approach. Chastain makes an effort to explain data and test results to his patients in business terms they can relate to.
“My goal is to give them the equivalent of a gap analysis,” he says, referring to the popular corporate term. “We show them where there is a deficiency in their health and where it should be and what they need to do to get it to where it needs to be.”
That said, Chastain does not give tips on diet or exercise per se. In cases where that’s warranted—and often it is—he refers patients to exercise physiologists or nutrition experts. What he does give them are statistics on how much greater their chance of a heart attack or stroke if they don’t lose 15 or 20 pounds.
In the six years since Chastain opened the Executive Wellness Center, he has seen hundreds of patients and saved many of their lives. Many of his patients come for an appointment thinking they’re in fine shape and good health.
“Some are and for those who are in good shape this is the seal of approval they need,” he says. “But others get a smack in the head when they find out they have heart trouble or colon cancer.” [A colonoscopy is optional, though most patients go ahead and do it.]
But then, early detection is key and helping busy professionals—or anyone, for that matter—live a longer, healthier life is what the Executive Wellness Center is all about.
“It’s easy to diagnose sick people,” Chastain says. “It’s much harder to find potential problems in someone who appears to be otherwise healthy. But that’s what I strive to do—so that we can attack it before it’s too late.”