KENDALLVILLE — Exercise regimens, cooking demonstrations and other health education programs have traditionally been an in-person experience — until the COVID-19 pandemic halted many activities, altered day-to-day lifestyles and forced everyone to adjust to wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

Parkview Center for Healthy Living, based at the Community Learning Center in Kendallville, has reimagined its in-person programs into virtual formats to help people live their best lives. Call 347-8125 to register for virtual programs or for more information.

CHL supervisor Taylor Yoder said the center offered a wide variety of programs before the pandemic on fitness, nutrition, healing arts, diabetes, Lunch and Learn, and a monthly Check-Up Day of low-cost blood tests and medical screenings. The center couldn’t offer these programs in-person during Indiana’s shutdown.

“There was a learning curve to reconfigure fitness classes, coaching sessions and cooking demonstrations into a virtual format,” Yoder said. “We used Zoom for fitness, Zumba and Barre classes because you can make the instructor screen larger.”

Ann Kadish, media and community relations specialist at Parkview Noble and LaGrange hospitals, said a number of online services were already available, such as virtual physicians’ visits, before the coronavirus hit.

“We have gone through a lot of thinking about how to help people,” Kadish said.

Yoder, who is also a health coach, said it’s important to stay on track in improving health, even during the pandemic.

“We define a vision for personal health,” she said. “We identify short-term and long-term goals, and what the barriers are to good health. Then we guide lifestyle changes to last a lifetime.”

Registered dietitian Rebecca Tourney teaches a monthly cooking demonstration, which had been in person. Topics and discussion often focus on using produce in season.

She now does her online program at 5 p.m. — dinner time — so her viewers can make their own meal. She creates her Lunch and Learn series with heart-smart recipes. Cooking demonstrations are often on Mediterranean-style meals using seafood, oils, spices and vegetables.

“They can buy the ingredients and follow along in their own kitchen,” Tourney said. “It’s open to anyone and the location doesn’t matter now.”

Yoder said her staff worked to make access to virtual programs as simple as possible, with links for computers, iPads and mobile phones.

“All you need is an email address and internet access,” she said. “We send a link in an email and make it easy to use.”

It wasn’t possible to do the Check-Up Day events virtually, so they were suspended for a while, but have resumed with new procedures in place. Check-Up Days were walk-in events in the past but now require an appointment.

“These low-cost blood tests were the hallmark of health fairs, but they’re in turmoil,” Kadish said. “Now they preregister. We do them by appointment and stagger them. Everyone wears a mask older than age 2.”

Kadish said the blood tests are important for diabetics, men who must track their PSA count for cancer, and to find patients who have a Vitamin D deficiency, which has been connected to heart disease.

As Indiana has reopened, Yoder said it will now be easier to use the full-size gymnasium at the Community Learning Center for in-person fitness classes — there is plenty of room for social distancing.

Meeting rooms have moveable walls and cling discs to mark the 6-foot space for social distancing. In following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and the Indiana Board of Health, patients enter through one door and leave through another to avoid close contact.

“It’s all one-way traffic,” Kadish said.

The lifting of shutdown restrictions means Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography can return to its mission. Francine’s Friends offers free or low-cost mammography to all women age 35 and older, insured or uninsured, in a motor coach staffed by Breast Diagnostic Center technicians.

“Mobile mammography is especially important in rural areas for screening mammograms at a reduced cost,” Kadish said.

Uninsured children and families will again benefit from visits to the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, Kadish said.. The Care Mobile is a state-of the art doctor’s office on wheels, with two patient exam rooms, a laboratory and a patient education center.

“It’s a very colorful vehicle,” she said of the large truck. “It delivers no-charge services to families with no health insurance.”

Care Mobile services include wellness visits, immunizations, screenings for hearing, vision and development, point-of-care testing for lead, strep and urine, fluoride treatments and childhood health and safety education.

The Care Mobile is possible through a partnership of the Ronald McDonald Foundation and Parkview Health.

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