Dr. William Ghali
May 8, 2018
UCalgary volunteers lace up for Flames Health Training Camp
Even if they were shooting for retail deals and missed, they scored some invaluable health advice.
Volunteer physicians, nurses and health experts screened more than 120 people at two Calgary area malls for the Flames Health Training Camp — a community health outreach initiative by the Calgary Flames Foundation and partner organizations, including the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). Of those screened by health teams, more than 30 people were found to have high blood pressure or were at risk of diabetes and directed for further care.
The annual health initiative, now in its fourth year, is a unique opportunity that utilizes the powerful Flames brand to get people in the community thinking more about their own well-being and for institute researchers to apply expertise in a broader strategy to improve public health, says Dr. William Ghali, scientific director for the O’Brien Institute.
Mall-goers engaged with nurses and doctors and rubbed elbows with Flames alum such as Joel Otto, Rene Corbet, and legendary sportscaster Peter Maher, the voice of the team from 1980 until his retirement in 2014.
“Sports teams are pretty powerful entities in communities like ours and people care about the Flames in this city — they love the Flames,” says Ghali. “That’s really positive, and it’s a great gift the Flames organization makes to the community.”
Dr. William Ghali
Candice Goudie, executive director of the Flames Foundation, says it’s their mission to improve lives through support of health and wellness initiatives, education and amateur sports programming — the Flames Health Training Camp is a natural fit.
“We want to help make Calgary the healthiest city in the world. This event is a gift to the community to hopefully change the lives of people who may not have been aware of some of these conditions, as well as an opportunity for practical health advice.”
Goudie said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of nearly 100 volunteers from UCalgary, Mount Royal University (MRU), the YMCA, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Healthy Living program and the Calgary Flames.
Physicians from the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the CSM, along with additional physicians and experts from the Faculty of Kinesiology joined forces with volunteers from MRU faculties to provide one-on-one consultations to shoppers at two locations: Chinook Shopping Centre in south Calgary and CrossIron Mills, just north of the city.
Teams looked for specific markers of conditions with potentially serious health implications if left untreated: diabetes and high blood pressure among them.
Dr. William Ghali
Diabetes is an umbrella of conditions under which the body fails to produce or use the insulin necessary to regulate glucose, or sugar levels, in the blood. Too much glucose can result in health complications and death. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“For every person who has high blood pressure, there’s probably another person out there with high blood pressure who doesn’t know it. Same with diabetes. We know there’s a lot of undiagnosed diabetes in the community so those two conditions are conditions being targeted,” says Ghali.
Representatives from the YMCA were on hand to discuss fitness and distribute free passes, while ambassadors from AHS’ Healthy Living program offered education and support to those living with chronic conditions.
Those who were found to have either high blood pressure or at risk of diabetes were given practical advice on next steps. In many cases they were directed to see their family physician. Some were referred to the AHS Healthy Living program, while others who did not have a doctor were referred to the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta.