This year, Bryan Heart Institute cardiologist Ryan Whitney, MD, assumed a new role — Executive Medical Director at Bryan LifePointe. While Dr. Whitney will continue his cardiology practice, he looks forward to the opportunities ahead at the Bryan LifePointe campus, a place he sees as a beacon for preventive health and wellness.
We sat down and talked with this husband, father of three, and avid cyclist and photographer about his vision for Bryan LifePointe.
Q: What led to your decision to take on this new role?
My training is in interventional cardiology — in other words my training is to open up clogged arteries; that’s what I do. It became apparent to me that this is the end product — “fixing” what has already gone wrong. To really make a big difference, a big impact in people’s lives, you need to help them prevent developing the clogs in their arteries in the first place. From there, I developed a big interest in preventive cardiology — lipid management, weight management, exercise — just overall wellness. So when this opportunity became available it seemed to me a perfect fit, to bridge preventive cardiology with a health and wellness facility.
Q: Why do we stay in the wellness business at Bryan Health?
Bryan LifePointe serves an important role in the wellness of our community. We can lead by example; the more we promote wellness, the more we get the message across. As we get people to our LifePointe campus south of 27th and Pine Lake Road and get services out into the community, we can help change lifestyles and habits. Promoting wellness and better health will help prevent people from developing lifelong chronic diseases. We have the opportunity to make a big impact. And further, we want to help those who have chronic health issues better manage them, and thereby improve their quality of life. Diabetes is a major one that we can help with. The better it’s managed, the less symptoms and complications diabetes sufferers will have. Helping people with diet, weight loss and lifestyle changes will help them prevent chronic diseases from developing.
Q: What are your personal beliefs about wellness and preventive medicine, and how does Bryan Health fit with those beliefs?
I think wellness is something that is greatly underappreciated in society right now. The obesity epidemic, chronic, preventable diseases like diabetes … it’s something we all need to focus on more. Wellness encompasses dietary changes, weight loss, exercise and overall health maintenance. Bryan Health's overall goal is to promote health. I see Bryan LifePointe becoming a beacon of wellness. One of the health system’s goals is to promote health and wellness to those in Lincoln and Nebraska, so we hope the LifePointe campus will become a focal point.
Q: How do the current Spa at LifePointe services, such as massage and reflexology, fit in with your idea of wellness?
It’s been shown that relaxation and other techniques are beneficial to people in helping lower their blood pressure and improving sense of well-being. So I think to be a complete wellness facility you really need to offer not just health improvement and physical fitness improvement but programs and services that deal with the mind/body/spirit connection.
Q: How do you and your family practice wellness?
My wife and I exercise, and our teenage children are all active in high school sports and activities. We try to eat healthy foods, and we try to live by the doctrine that we preach.
Q: How do you envision growth at the LifePointe campus?
From a medical perspective, I think areas of big opportunity — because they are growing problems in society — would be diabetes and obesity. Strengthening our diabetes and obesity programs is going to be very important, and we’ll be combining those with some of our nutritional and cooking courses. And expanding those offerings into some corporate wellness programs will be exciting. A lot of people are pressed for time in today’s society, so it will be important to bring something to where people work.
I like to cook, and have participated in the “Cooking with the Cardiologist” series conducted by Bryan Heart Institute and Hy-Vee. The cooking classes at the LifePointe campus are fantastic and well received. I plan to be an active participant in those programs when I can.
Q: Given that you enjoy food and cooking, will you share with us one or two of your “go-to” healthy snacks?
One of my favorite “go-to” healthy snacks is nuts, such as a handful of almonds. Nuts are rich in proteins, antioxidants and good fats. And you can’t go wrong with a veggie tray. Just don’t go overboard on the ranch dip.