Lee Memorial Health System’s Dr. Sal Lacagnina Recommends Plant-Based Nutrition to LMHS Employees and Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference to Fellow Physicians

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A self-insured employer with over 14,000 employees and dependents on its health plan, Lee Memorial Health System VP of Health and Wellness Sal Lacagnina, MD deems plant-based nutrition essential to reining in the health system’s burgeoning cost of healthcare by empowering employees to dramatically improve and restore their health through dietary lifestyle modification. The mission of the North American Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, set for October 24-26 in Naples, Florida is to educate physicians and healthcare professionals about the efficacy of whole food, plant-based nutrition in preventing, suspending and reversing much of the disease that’s driving costs of self-insured employers like LMHS.

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We get out of residency not understanding that food is medicine and that it, combined with exercise, should be the foundation of prevention.

Dr. Sal Lacagnina (known as Dr. Sal), vice president of health and wellness at Lee Memorial Health System, looks forward to attending the inaugural North American Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference in Naples, FL on October 24-26. “My medical practice has always been centered on keeping people healthy,” said Dr. Sal. “I’ve seen a direct correlation between lifestyle and chronic illness: those who exercise regularly and eat healthfully—a predominantly plant-based diet—are more vital and productive.”

Lee Memorial has charged Dr. Sal with the mission of reining in system healthcare costs, which topped $70 million last year. “As a self-insured employer with over 14,000 employees, we’ve been watching healthcare costs go up and up,” noted Dr. Sal, adding, “healthcare reform and cost containment start with the individual and his or her lifestyle choices.”

With assistance from the community-based Complete Health Improvement Program(CHIP), Dr. Sal’s efforts are already proving effective by way of two pilot groups of Lee Memorial employees and dependents. “With one pilot concluded and another pilot underway, our goal is to put Lee County on the map as one of the healthiest counties in the nation,” said Kathy Reynaert-Randall, corporate and community trainer/facilitator for CHIP. “Our Lee Memorial pilot participants have embraced the CHIP program wholeheartedly; it centers on a plant-based diet with the mantra of ‘high fiber, low fat, and food as grown.’”

“Reading The China Study and seeing Forks Over Knives reinforce that CHIP’s approach was one that could deliver a strong ROI,” said Dr. Sal. “The answers seem so simple yet they are too often ignored. Education in and of itself is the answer, followed with individual responsibility.”

Emphasizing whole food, plant-based nutrition and exercise as the two foundational pillars, each Lee Memorial pilot participant takes part in an in-depth lifestyle education program and receives a pedometer with encouragement to clock in at least 10K steps each day. Biometrics are monitored on an ongoing basis. “Every single person is realizing health benefits from the program in blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, A1C, as well as in energy levels and sleep improvement,” said Reynaert-Randall. “It’s not a diet, it’s a sustainable lifestyle. Weight loss is a side benefit of this approach; the objective is improved and restored health—being more productive and avoiding pharmaceuticals.”

“Anecdotally and objectively, on the clinical and financial side of the equation, the results have been tremendous: We’ll probably have a 2 or 3 to 1 ROI, and this represents only one year cost savings,” said Dr. Sal. “Plant-based nutrition is the healthiest dietary lifestyle. Employees become healthier, and the result is a healthier bottom line for the employer.”

Regarding the inaugural North American Plant-based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, Dr. Sal is adamant about the need for his fellow physicians to learn about the power of nutritional medicine. “We get out of residency not understanding that food is medicine and that it, combined with exercise, should be the foundation of prevention,” Dr. Sal emphasized. “Physicians need to live the lifestyle themselves and see, firsthand, their own health improvement, using it as a lifestyle recipe for success with their own patients.”

About the North American Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference:

Leading experts in preventive, nutritional medicine will be presenting at the inaugural North American Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference, October 24-26, 2013 in Naples, Florida. This CME accredited medical conference will educate gatekeepers of dietary-related advice—our nation’s physicians and allied health practitioners—about the nutritional science and efficacy of whole food, plant-based nutrition and its proven ability to prevent, suspend and even reverse disease. The review of current and progressive scientific research will be presented with a commitment to intellectual integrity, without bias or influence. Visit http://www.pbnhc.com for details.

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