The Northeast Berks Chamber of Commerce introduced the new Working Lunch series, holding the first program on wellness at Keystone Villa at Fleetwood on Feb. 15.
“My intention with the Working Lunch series is to bring members together with other members,” said Northeast Berks Chamber Executive Director Lori B. Donofrio-Galley. “We’re looking to engage all of our members and to let members know what these other businesses are.”
She said the Chamber has about 35 percent of Chamber members in attendance at programs and events, held at various times of the day, breakfast, lunch and evenings.
“The goal is to accommodate the schedules of all members, so for those people who cannot make day-time meetings they can come to evening networking events,” said Donofrio-Galley. “The goal is to engage as many members as possible at different times of the day.”
Held on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Working Lunch series will be held in February, April, June, and October. The 90-minute educational programs will be led by a panel of members who contribute on a given topic based on their business expertise.
“The most interesting part is not only learning about the multitude of services but also the level of investment... they are really invested in the work that they do,” said Donofrio-Galley.
The Feb. 15 program was sponsored by Relative Care/Advance Home Health, West Reading, which was established in 2006 as a non-medical home care agency.
“We pride ourselves in continuity of care,” said Relative Care President Justin LaFazia. “The hallmark of our care is really getting in there and getting to know someone and being an extension of their family.”
Services include companionship, personal care and skilled services, from physical therapy to skilled nursing.
Wellness was the topic for the Feb. 15 program. Exercise, holistic therapies, and health and wellness initiatives were presented by chamber member panelists Dr. Brian Ghessi of Ghessi Chiropractic, Fleetwood; Desha Dickson, Reading Health System; Megan Dougherty, Tri-Valley YMCA Fleetwood; and Tamu Ngina, MEND Soul Holistic Arts, Kutztown.
Ghessi has more than 10 years of chiropractic and natural healing experience. He spent the last 17 years in California and recently returned to Fleetwood in 2015. Ghessi Chiropractic, 12 West Main Street, Fleetwood, will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on March 6, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
During the panel discussion, Ghessi talked about the range of health issues that may originate from the spine. Demonstrating with a model spine, he showed how too much pressure and compression can affect the spine.
“The nervous system is the communication system of our whole body,” he said. “If those signals are constantly being interfered with because of this pressure, we can get all types of things happening, not just pain. These nerves go out to all of the muscles, joints, organs and tissues of our body.”
For example, chronic tension in the spine that goes out to the lungs can lead to such health problems as asthma and respiratory function issues, he said. In addition to pain, indicators of a problem could be muscle tightness, restriction in a joint, and chronic illnesses.
“Spinal Subluxations are the misalignments of the vertebrae putting pressure on our nerves,” said Ghessi, explaining that restoring the spine alignment “makes not only the spine and body feel better but it restores the proper flow of information in our body.”
While many believe chiropractic is for bones he said it primarily addresses the health of the nerves and the nervous system.
Dougherty talked about the many programs offered at Tri-Valley YMCA Fleetwood for ages 6 weeks up to age 90.
“A child is playing youth sports with us while Mom is in a fitness class and Dad is working out in the weight room and we got grandparents volunteering behind the front desk so we really try to encompass the family,” said Dougherty. “We’re not just a gym, we offer so much more... It’s a family-center facility.”
Programs include daycare; after-school programs at Fleetwood, Brandywine Heights and Hamburg school districts; youth summer camps; youth basketball of more than 300 participants; swim lessons; fitness programs for all ages; and programs for senior citizens.
“Our motto is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We try to accomplish this, all three of them, in all of our programs,” said Dougherty. “We never cap our programs, we will find a spot for everybody.”
Ngina, from MEND Soul Holistic Arts, Kutztown, talked about some of her services, including Reiki, meditation sessions and reflexology.
“Reflexology is an art, a modality, that has been around for thousands of years... practiced all over the world,” said Ngina. “Certain parts of the feet are manipulated for certain reasons.”
Noting that reflexology is not foot massage, she used a foot chart depicting different parts of the body to show how reflexology works.
“My passion is reflexology. I also do massage therapy. I like to help people to learn how to center and take care of their body from their brain all the way down to the soles of their feet,” said Ngina. “When you take care of these two regions (the head and feet) everything else helps to fall into place.”
Dickson discussed some of Reading Health System’s community health initiatives including an initiative to address addiction focused mostly on the opioid epidemic. Others initiatives aim to increase mental health access, address obesity and improve access to care. She said that while there are more people insured in Berks County than three years ago, access to care remains an issue because of insurance limitations, high co-pays and locations of primary providers as well as public transportation.
One initiative to address obesity challenged Reading Health employees to walk 10,000 steps a day. Out of the 6,800 employes, about 5,000 participated. The winning six teams were rewarded with a trip to California.
“People were talking about all the weight they lost. They’re walking with their dogs. They’re walking with their kids. It’s great to hear all the employees talk about how this challenge has really motivated them,” said Dickson. “We formed our own Wellness Team and we have different wellness challenges to inspire employees.”
Another initiative encourages employees to get preventive care to receive discounts on insurance premiums for such things as seeing their primary doctor twice a year.
Attendees found the panel discussion both informative and interesting, including Fay Leida, owner of The Wig Lady in Fleetwood.
“Just to open our eyes to what’s out there to help us if we feel that we need that service,” said Leida. “I like it when they have someone here speaking to us.”
Kim Davis, of KD Consulting, Kutztown, found the panel discussion to be great. In particular, she enjoyed hearing about Reading Healthy System’s incentives to encourage employes to get healthy.
“I wish there was a way we could implement as a nation to do that, to really be more proactive instead of being reactive on the medical side,” said Davis. “Especially when you have premiums on the rise.”
In response, Dickson said, “I think you’ll see that changing in the coming years as you see health systems begin to merge, as you see payers and health systems begin to work more closely together.”
Reading Health System and UPMC Health Plan recently finalized an agreement to form a provider-payer joint venture.
“Now everybody at the table has an incentive for prevention because care costs a lot of money, particularly when you would have what we call high utilizers... It makes more sense to treat them in their community and it makes more sense to prevent them from even coming to the hospital for episodic care. We want to treat people for long term serious issues... We want you to be able to go to your primary doctor.”
Dickson said that as costs continue to rise, then people will start to say, “We need to do something different, because what we’re doing is not working. So I think you’ll start to see that change and people will come to the table, saying what can we do.”