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Changing habits to bring healing: Holland Hospital’s Center for Good Health offers lifestyle medicine

For those who are sick, getting healthy is often about taking the right medication for healing or to protect from flare-ups and recurrences.

For Dr. Tyler Murphy, internal medicine/lifestyle medicine physician at Holland Hospital, “medicine” goes beyond reacting with pharmaceuticals. The best medicine, he said, is living a lifestyle that helps prevent illness and strengthens the body to fight it.

He used cardiovascular disease as an example.

“In other countries of the world, nobody dies of cardiovascular disease,” Murphy said. “It’s our No. 1 cause of death in this country, and it’s all because of the way we live.”

In fact, while pharmaceuticals are sometimes necessary, he said the best way to fight sickness of all types is through creating a healthier lifestyle, not just in nutrition and fitness, but also in sleep, mindfulness and limiting chemical exposure. This type of medicine is the focus of Holland Hospital’s Center for Good Health, which opened in January.

“Lifestyle medicine is so much better because it gets out of the way of what the body wants to do, which is heal,” he said. He compared unhealthy living and sickness to hitting one’s thumb with a hammer and wondering why it hurts and doesn’t work well.

“Conventional medicine (such as prescribing pharmaceuticals) is like taking a 20-pound hammer out of your hand and replacing it with a 10-pound hammer,” he said. “… Lifestyle medicine is taking the hammer out of the hand and allowing the thumb to heal.”

Referrals are not required at the Center for Good Health — anyone can make an appointment, where patients are assessed about their lifestyles. The appointment is the starting point, where patients see what they’re doing well and what needs to be changed.

“I try to provide them even at that first visit with some general information about health and wellness, so that if they didn’t want to go any further than that visit, they would have a way to move themselves forward,” Murphy said.

Patients may then begin a more intensive lifestyle medicine therapy, where they have regular appointments and start making steps toward changing their lifestyle piece by piece.

“Then we put forth some very actionable steps they can take and start to build the positivity of forward momentum,” Murphy said. “So that by the time they’re done with all that care, we’ll have propagated as much change as we can in all five of those domains.”

Murphy said lifestyle medicine is based on medical research and literature. Lives have been changed, he said, and many of his patients no longer need some — if not all — of the medicines they were taking before the process. 

“What we do here is very purposeful and very guided by the scientific literature,” he said.

On average, patients are under care with the Center for Good Health three to six months to create new habits. The center has experts in all five areas they focus on.

“I’ll try to steer patients award those various experts I feel they would most benefit from,” he said. “Once a person is cared for by more than one provider, we then discuss their case at our team meetings.”

And the cost?

“All the care delivered by me is billable to insurance,” Murphy said. “All of the surrounding care (such as hiring a nutritionist or going to yoga) is self-funded by the patient.”

And while the process can be life-changing, it is not for the faint of heart. Those interested have to be willing to make big changes in their lives in order to see those kinds of results.

“The bottom line is, if people are going to change, they’re going to change. And if they’re not changing, they’re not ready for it,” he said.

The Center for Good Health is at 175 S Waverly Road, Suite A, in Holland. Those interested can call 616-394-3344 to make an appointment or visit for more information.

— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelHeth.

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