Healthy Lifestyle Habits

We live in a society where health seems to be highly valued. We feel that we should all be entitled to some level of health. We often go to great lengths and spend a lot of money and resources treating and managing disease and chronic illness. There have been incredible advances in science and technology over the last century that make this more possible than ever before. Being healthy, however is often taken for granted and it is often when we lose health, that we appreciate what we had and wonder how we can get it back.

What we do to our bodies has an impact on our health. This is something that has been recognized for millennia. Hippocrates, (460-377BC) who is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Medicine” had a few thoughts on healthy life-styles. He compared people’s habits and noticed that “bodies grow relaxed and squat … through their sedentary lives,” which led to various illnesses. Those who walked more, stayed well longer. He often prescribed exercise. He observed that “those who are constitutionally very fat are more apt to die quickly than those who are thin” recognizing that people who ate mainly a fresh, plant-based diet, developed fewer diseases. His advice was that of improving a patient’s diet. He recognized that the same remedy could heal in one dose but harm in a greater one. For example, he prescribed wine as part of a healthy diet and to ease pain in childbirth. Hippocrates also noticed that his patients developed gout if they continually drank too much wine. When he convinced them to change their habits, the painful condition improved.

Fast forward to 1997, where a group of researchers from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden started a study. They selected a group of 20,721 men aged 45 to 79 with no history of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol and followed them over the next 11 years. They were categorized according to 5 healthy lifestyle habits:

  1. A healthy diet, including legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish
  2. Moderate alcohol intake (10-30gm of alcohol a day – equivalent of 1-2 glasses of wine)
  3. No smoking
  4. Being physically active (walking or bicycling more than 40 minutes a day and exercising more than 1 hour per week.
  5. Having no abdominal fat or a waistline of less than 95cm (38inches).

Over the 11 years they looked at the risk of heart attacks as a measure of health. They were able to identify a reduction in risk of developing heart disease in each of the 5 categories compared to the group that did not meet these criteria. 

  1. Maintaining a healthy diet reduced the risk by 18%
  2. The moderate alcohol intake group had an 11% reduction in risk
  3. Not smoking showed a 36% reduction in risk
  4. Being physically active reduced the risk by 3%
  5. Having a smaller waistline reduced the risk by 12%

It is interesting to note that the combined effect of a healthy diet and moderate alcohol intake reduced the risk of having a heart attack by 36 %, which is the same risk reduction as not smoking. The group of men that were able to maintain all 5 healthy lifestyle habits amounted to only 1% of the study group, but showed an 86% reduced risk of having a heart attack.  In other words 4 out 5 heart attacks may be preventable by following healthy life style habits. The sobering reality is that there is no amount of medication that I as a physician can prescribe, that can come close to achieving these risk reductions mentioned above. 

Our health is a partnership. You and your health care provider have a valuable input into your eventual health outcome.  As a physician I can measure and monitor some physical parameters and provide you with certain remedies in the form of medicine or prescriptions, as well as advice. Much of the advice I give, you have probably heard before. The physician’s part in this partnership is small and often easy, compared to what you, as the patient, have to do. Changing habits is difficult and takes consistent effort, determination and personal motivation. It may help to stop and ask, “Is this good for me?” before mindlessly continuing in a comfortable habit. You will then be well on your way to being kinder to your body.

The message here is not new, it is not complicated and is certainly not financially draining. The cost, however, is significant in personal discipline, time and planning your day ahead. Investing in your health today, will ensure a rewarding pay-out later. Our health is largely in our own hands. 

What one, new healthy decision are you making today?

Katie Cares partners with AMC to give stuffed animals

Thanks to Katie Cares, children coming for their 5 year old school immunizations will be getting a stuffed animal. 

We will also be giving them to the children who are having a hard time with getting a needle. We are very excited to partner with Katie Cares in supporting our patients.

We Are Expanding!

That’s right! The vision of developing clinic space at Agassiz Medical Centre has been on the minds of the AMC Community Board for several years. The time has come for the Clinic Development Project to become a reality in our community.

The Agassiz Medical Centre Community Board provides the equipment (both medical and technology based) and furnishings that our physicians, nurse practitioners and staff need to provide the healthcare services that our growing community needs today, and will need in the future.

With the Clinic Development Project we will be able to provide the space and facility that will continue to attract physicians and other health care professionals to our community.   Three reasons why we need to develop more space:

  1. When all of our providers are in the clinic there are often not enough exam rooms available to accommodate everyone.
  2. If we want to recruit more physicians to this area we need more exam rooms.
  3. Due to the amount of patients and staff at the Agassiz Medical Centre, many of the work spaces are too small or no longer function efficiently to continue to provide the best patient care experience.

This is exciting as we prepare to grow with our community.

Menzies Medical Centre

One of Dr. Bob Menzies wishes was to practice until 2020 which would complete a century of family practice by the Menzies name. Unfortunately he passed away in 2017, unable to reach his goal. 

To fulfill the vision of one hundred years of care within this community we are renaming ourselves the Menzies Medical Centre.

This recognizes all the Menzies family members; each of whom have contributed to the vision, passion and support for their community that we all knew the Menzies physicians stood for.

We will officially change the name to the Menzies Medical Centre on completion of the development project.

Life Got You Stressed?

Feeling overwhelmed? Not coping? This is a common feeling felt by many; you are not alone! Why is it that day to day life can become too much to handle? Stress develops when we feel the demands of life outweigh our capabilities to meet them, and let’s face it in this 21st century demands are quite high! From children being encouraged to participate in every activity possible with hopes that they will excel to their highest potential, to teenagers who are paving their path of independence and making important life decisions; then there are young adults facing new transitions such as marriage, parenthood or establishing careers, and those facing retirement. 

Some common signs of stress include feeling worried, angry and depressed. People lose confidence and have a more negative perspective.  Some describe poor concentration or having difficulty making decisions. Others note changes in behaviours like withdrawing from loved ones, avoiding stressful situations or resorting to illicit substances. Physical symptoms could include muscle tension, changes in appetite, increased respirations and heart rate, headaches, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. 

Here are some helpful tips to manage stress: identify your stressors and concentrate on what you do have control over as a common temptation is to run away, avoid or give up. Fight this urge as this isn’t helpful in the end.  For the situations where you may not have control, practice acceptance.  Emotions are high!  Pushing feelings away or ignoring them seems like a quick solution because after all who wants to feel sad, grumpy or worried?  Unfortunately this is not a helpful solution as these feelings will continue to resurface. Instead, try acknowledging emotions & express them to a friend, family member or by writing them out. Seek out support from those you trust & ask for their advice or get help with decision making. Accept help and remind yourself that this doesn’t mean you are weak or have failed. Focus on the positives because when we are stressed it’s easy to dwell on the negative which is less likely to lead to positive action. Pay attention to your self-care such as eating habits, exercise and sleep. What about relaxation exercises? There is evidence that suggests belly breathing activates our body’s natural relaxation system! Have you heard about mindfulness? This can be a helpful discipline to learn to let go of worries and uncertainties. Take a yoga class or spend time in nature. Evaluate your work-home-life balance & try problem solving to make some adjustments. For some, spirituality is an important way of coping. Distraction can be useful for coping with stress that is out of your control. Some examples are leisure activities, hobbies, housework, gardening, or movies.   

There are times when we need to seek out professional support to build our toolbox of coping. Speak with your physician about potential options. Some of the information obtained for this article can be further explored on website

Lindsay Hainsworth  RPN,
Shared Care Mental Health Clinician
Agassiz Medical Centre

Bob’s Bed Push

Agassiz Medical Centre will be honoring Dr. Bob Menzies’ spirit and passion with a modest fundraising effort. Clinic staff have modified an old Morden Hospital ER bed with a large banner and will be pushing it from Agassiz Medical Centre to Boundary Trails Health Centre and back on September 29th, 2018 starting at 9:00am. We feel this will be a special tribute to Bob who spent many years travelling that stretch of road serving the community he loved.

We will also be collecting donations during this time as well for Boundary Trails Cancer Care. Any donations larger than $20.00 must have the individual’s name and address attached to receive a Tax Receipt. Any cheques are to be made out to BTHC Foundation (memo line: Cancer Care and/or Bob’s Bed Push). The bedpans are a ‘cheeky’ container that we feel Bob would support by giving us one of his deep bellow laughs.

The Bed and Sign currently sit in the AMC waiting room and you can donate there as well at any time until the 29th. So come on down and make the “Tin Ring”.

Morden Community Thrift Store donates $3000!

A big thank you to The Morden Community Thrift Store who donated $3000 to the Agassiz Medical Centre Community Board to purchase a Digital Platform Scale with Handles and Blood Pressure Cuffs. The Digital Platform Scale has attached handholds to make it easier for people with mobility and balance concerns to get on and off the scale, as well as being able to hold on while being weighed. The weighing platform is low to make it easier to step on and off. There is an attached height gauge so that this can be done at the same time as the weight. This scale also has increased weight limit, allowing us to get weights up to 1000lbs. Overall this will help us better serve our elderly and less mobile patients to better determine their health needs.

The Blood Pressure Cuffs allow patients to take home the Blood Pressure machines for two week periods of time. We have several Blood Pressure Machines available for patients to use on request by their physician. The cuffs that originally came with the Blood Pressure Machines are standard sizes and do not fit all patients properly. With the purchase of a variety of different sizes it allows patients to get a better fit when doing a blood pressure reading at home.

Home for the Summer program

What it means to Agassiz Medical Centre

The ‘Home for the Summer’ Program hosted by Agassiz Medical Centre and Boundary Trails Health Centre allows 1st year medical students to see and experience what rural medicine entails. It gives the students a better understanding of the difference between rural and urban practices. Without this exposure, many students may not realize the quality of healthcare rural facilities can offer. We want them to appreciate that being a physician in the rural area is a worthwhile option so that they may consider coming to this area in the future.

As part of the Home for the Summer program, the students were required to work on a designated project that was given to them by Agassiz Medical Centre. The project information that they collected when doing their projects is now being used to improve the quality of patient care offered by Agassiz Medical Centre. The students also received a wage as a joint effort between Agassiz Medical Centre, Southern Health and the Office of Rural & Northern Health as this was considered their summer job position.

Agassiz Medical Centre looks forward to being part of this program again if the opportunity presents itself.