Having a chronic disease can be an isolating experience, but Mary Biddle-Newberry and the Y Healthy Living Center she directs for the Treasure Valley Family YMCA are working to change that by providing evidence-based programming and working with health care and community partners to increase participants’ quality of life.
“Our goal is not to replace care, but to align with other community organizations to be a conduit in filling in missing pieces,” Biddle-Newberry said. “When we work together, individuals in need can get care and stay well by spending time in community spaces in addition to traditional health care facilities.”
A Certified Medical Exercise Specialist credentialed in nationally recognized modalities of exercise, Biddle-Newberry has been at the YMCA for 18 years now. During that time, she has created and implemented many programs, such as initiatives for oncology recovery, movement disorders, joint health and dementia. Ultimately, her goal is to make a significant, positive impact on program participants’ quality of life while reducing the incidence of chronic disease and the cost of health care.
“Recovery from and/or living with a chronic disease is not automatic — it takes collaboration from an entire team of skilled, passionate people to provide informed treatment, programming and training to ensure they can maintain their quality of life,” she said.
In addition to increasing quality of life, this type of programming provides an affordable alternative or continuation of care for many.
“I am proud to see that our industry is becoming receptive to community organizations providing health care,” said Biddle-Newberry. “Having the opportunity to experience social interaction and connect with those who have had similar experiences can be invaluable.”