China’s First Medical Fitness Facility
The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital is the model for China’s first Medical Fitness Facility in Rizhao City, Shandong Province. Under a multi-year agreement with the local hospital in Rizhao, an 80,000 square foot facility has been developed in a building formerly used as the Reception Centre for the Water Sports events in the 2008 Olympics.
The redevelopment was led by Canada Wellness Institute, a new not for profit company formed by Seven Oaks Hospital to commercialize Wellness Institute’s expertise and brand in China.
The partnership in Rizhao grew out of visits to Canada by the China Hospital Association and Chinese Hospitals interested in adopting Wellness Institute’s approach to chronic disease management and prevention.
In its 17 years in operation in Winnipeg, the Wellness Institute has become a leading expert in prescribing and supporting lifestyle medicine based on exercise, nutrition and healthy lifestyle behaviour change. It has demonstrated success in helping people afflicted with heart, diabetes, kidney, cancer and lung disease as well as people at risk of disease, to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles
“This is global recognition for Wellness Institute and the credit goes to our community, which had the foresight to plan and build a facility in 1996 that is now the model for facilities in China,” said Seven Oaks General Hospital President and Chief Operating Officer Carrie Solmundson. “China, like Canada, is grappling with rising incidence of chronic disease that is rooted in sedentary lifestyles, poor nutrition, and other unhealthy lifestyle behaviours,” she said.
Wellness Institute is integrated with the hospital but isn’t publicly funded; it’s a completely self-sufficient non-profit enterprise. Profit earned by Wellness Institute in Canada, or from its consulting work in China, goes back into facilities and programs to benefit people in Manitoba.
The made-in-Winnipeg solution has drawn accolades from both the federal and provincial governments. Manitoba Trade and Investment and the Canadian embassy both provided advice and logistics for building relationships in China, and Canadian Ambassador to China Guy Saint Jacques is speaking at the grand opening in Rizhao along with China’s Vice Minister of Health.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger saluted the project for its innovation and global reach earlier this week when he said,
“Manitoban ingenuity has often been the envy of other provinces and countries. When there is an opportunity to help – Manitobans are always there. I’m so proud of the support that the Seven Oaks Wellness Institute and Manitoba Trade and Investment are providing our friends in China and thankful for the Chinese investment here at home.”
The Rizhao facility is a showcase for further Canada Wellness Institute projects elsewhere in China.
Some prospective partners have signed Memoranda of Understanding and are attending the grand opening in Rizhao including partners from Hainan in southern China which is in detailed negotiations with Canada Wellness Institute to develop a second facility there.