SF VA Strength and Wellness Program Wins Award - San Francisco VA Health Care System
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San Francisco VA Health Care System


SF VA Strength and Wellness Program Wins Award

Veterans working out during a Functional Flexibility Class at the Richmond District YMCA.

Veterans working out during a Functional Flexibility Class at the Richmond District YMCA, led by VA Recreation Therapist Christian Dillon, CPT, RT.

By Kellie Burdette Mendonca, Public Affairs Specialist
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

For the second year in a row, a program at the San Francisco VA Health Care System has won the VA National Community Partnership Award, which is bestowed by the Under Secretary for Health for outstanding and ongoing innovations in health care partnerships in the VA. Our Strength and Wellness Program team was recognized for their successful collaboration with the community to create a community-based fitness program for Veteran patients. Their program was selected as a model for other VAs to emulate.  

The 2015 award went to our Nutrition and Food Services team for offering Healthy Teaching Kitchens “Cooking Matters” classes that empower Veterans with confidence and skills to cook healthy mills in support of their nutrition and health goals. 

“Thanks to our collaboration with the San Francisco YMCA Association, we are able to provide exercise and wellness services to Veterans, bring them back into their community and coach them in a structured, supportive environment where they can meet more people and feel more comfortable engaging in everyday life more confidently,” says Wellness Program Coordinator Chris Geronimo, CTRS. 

The Strength and Wellness Program components are as follows. Veterans may participate in one or more of these offerings after receiving a referral from their VA primary care provider: 

MOVE!® Strength and Wellness for beginners is a 10-week class that focuses on weight management. It includes weekly traditional exercise classes at the Stonestown YMCA, plus a new option at the Richmond District YMCA: a weekly “Back to Basics” group with chair exercises for Veterans who have difficulties standing for long periods of time, or getting up and down off the floor, or who have balance challenges. This program also includes a weekly educational session for all participants at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. MOVE!® Strength and Wellness can serve up to 15 Veterans each class and recurs four times per year.  

Functional Flexibility is an intermediate, 8-week class that concentrates on stretching, and building strength and flexibility. Veterans participate in group fitness and lifestyle training with a VA recreation therapist at the Richmond District YMCA to enhance skills in mindfulness, flexibility, strength, and muscle toning. The class is “rolling” or continuous throughout the year, so new Veterans may join at any time, with a max class size of 12. 

Circuit Training is an intermediate level, 8-week class specializing in cardiovascular fitness, strength, and muscle toning with a VA recreation therapist at the Richmond District YMCA. This class is also rolling, with a class limit of 10. 

Both the Functional Flexibility and the Circuit Training programs can be adapted for beginners as needed. “It’s individualized,” says Chris. “Once the Veteran receives a consult from their provider, we bring them in for an intake, during which we not only share and describe what each program is all about, we allow the Veteran to make the decision as to which direction he or she would like to take, depending on what their goals and objectives are.”

“Our idea is to increase Veterans’ accessibility to fitness programs, and match their goals with our offerings,” says Chris. “There are different ways we can address the Veteran’s needs and really emphasize access to care.” 

For more information about the Strength and Wellness program contact Chris Geronimo at (415) 221-4810, ext. 2-3471.


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