The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks Hospital is adapting its model for the Chinese medical system.

The Institute signed an agreement with the Chinese Hospital Association to train staff and develop a program for China’s 20,000 hospitals.

“The Chinese Hospital Association has identified the Wellness Institute as a model they want to emulate, and that’s something we want to help them do,” says Casie Nishi, Executive Director of the Wellness Institute. “We’re owned and operated by a community hospital. So they really saw us as leaders in chronic disease prevention and management.”

Chinese representatives discovered the Wellness Institute two years ago during a tour of medical facilities in North America. They invited staff from Seven Oaks to visit China and discuss exporting the program.

The Wellness Institute is the first of its kind in Canada. The non-profit facility is staffed with health care professionals, and provides educational classes in addition to gym services. It has personalized programs for patients who need rehabilitation, or have chronic diseases.

Charles Turick completed the Wellness Institute’s cardiac rehab program after undergoing open heart surgery. He says the hospital referred him there after his quadruple bypass.

“Well, it sure opened my eyes to see that the way I was living before was not very good,” says Turick. “It was a drastic change in my lifestyle for diet and just overall lifestyle. And to this day I’m still trying to stick to it.”

He says if he found a program like this five years ago, he probably wouldn’t have needed surgery.

A delegation from China will arrive in June 2014 for two days of training and orientation. The Wellness Institute says that the Chinese Hospital Association has picked up the tab for all costs associated with the agreement.