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Washington Adventist Hospital Embraces CHIP Pilot Program

Story by Washington Adventist Hospital Staff
Published 10/16/2013

Three Washington Adventist Hospital staff members stand in support of the community members and employees who successfully completed the program.
Some 13 community members and employees recently graduated from the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP), offered for the first time at the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md. CHIP, generally offered through Seventh-day Adventist churches, is a lifestyle-enrichment program designed to reduce disease risk factors through the adoption of better health habits and appropriate lifestyle modifications. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the International Nutrition Research Foundation endorse this research-based program.
“CHIP was an opportunity for me to learn how to take charge of my health for myself,” says participant Michele Briley.
Kathleen Coleman, BSN, RN, MPH; Michele McBride, RN, BSN, CDE; and Felicia Addo, MPH, CHES, faciliated the program. “Studies show that some diseases can be connected to a variety of factors, such as a diet of processed foods, a lack of exercise and the use of cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine,” Coleman says. “Our health can also be negatively affected by increased levels of stress and the quality of our support systems.”
According to the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, 75 percent or more of Western diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are “lifestyle-related.”
CHIP’s goal is to lower blood lipids, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and reduce excess weight, which are all risk factors for more serious conditions. At the start of CHIP’s six-week program, participants completed health screenings, including lab measures for cholesterol and glucose, blood pressure, waist-to-hip ratio, Body Mass Index and body composition. Success was measured by the progress participants made in lowering their health screening measures after completion of the program.
“CHIP really opened my eyes to little-known connections between the food we consume and our health,” says LaTonya Jackson, another participant.
CHIP helps to provide motivation and the necessary tools needed to enact change, all while fitting around a participant’s day-to-day life. CHIP does not require a carefully controlled setting where diet and exercise are rigorously enforced to produce results; it produces results in the community by teaching participants how to navigate toward optimal health in their everyday lives.
“A few simple, painless, and deliberate lifestyle choices can make all the difference in the world and efforts can be rewarded in a matter of weeks,” Coleman says.
The CHIP instructional format also incorporated personal learning with a textbook, cookbook and workbook/journal, cooking demonstrations, nightly CHIP-friendly dinners and group accountability to support and encourage each other. Between sessions the participants were asked to “live” the program and incorporate the concepts learned.
“What I learned and achieved was nothing short of amazing,” says participant Mary Saville. “The program was not difficult at all, especially since I have been used to measuring, weighing and logging my food from previous weight-loss programs. Under the CHIP program, I did not need to do any of these, yet I still lost 16 pounds during the six-week program and never felt hungry.”

Following the pilot program graduation, CHIP has now transitioned from the bi-weekly sessions to a monthly session called “Club CHIP.” This phase sustains adherence to the program guidelines through an active member support organization. Washington Adventist Hospital officials are currently exploring how the program can be implemented in the future across the organization to improve the health of constituents and employees alike.
”I think this is a revolutionary program that every American could benefit from,” participant Mary Pelz says.

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