New HR clinic fosters the foundations of wellness

Healthy Connections’ Dr. Jeff Horacek, right, and staff host a recent open house. Beth Kandell of Simply Fine Gourmet of Stevenson, center, serves samples of bone marrow soup. With Horacek are health coach Heather Nielsen and guests Zach Chown and Michael Becker.

How long would you expect to spend with your doctor on your initial visit?

At Healthy Connections, which opened in September in the Nichols Landing Medical Building, you’ll spend up to 90 minutes with Jeffrey Horacek, MD, and one of the team’s lifestyle educators. He’s the only medical doctor in the Gorge who specializes in functional medicine, which goes a step further than traditional medicine by utilizing the latest genetic and biologic testing. This can help identify and treat the root cause of disease — especially chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, vascular disease, coronary artery disease and auto-immune related issues.

“Functional medicine is collaborative and empowering. Sometimes, people feel disempowered and dismissed for what they’re experiencing,” said Horacek. “We want to help people actively create healthy longevity by resolving root causes of illness instead of just treating symptoms.”

Lifestyle is the foundation of functional medicine. New patients at Healthy Connections take a convenient, online assessment that examines five fundamental lifestyle components, including nutrition, movement, sleep, stress and social connection.

“By focusing on these five areas,” said Horacek, “you can provide a great benefit. We also look at genetic data, because genetic variations can get activated through lifestyle choices and create a difficulty that prevents healthy aging.” Additionally, the intake involves a comprehensive timeline and history that helps identify the antecedents and triggers of current concerns.

Horacek is quick to point out that genetics don’t predestine someone to a particular outcome. ”Genes are a propensity, not a destiny,” he said. As an example, a woman he recently saw struggled with an auto-immune condition, low energy and cognitive problems. Advanced genetic testing showed variations that made the absorption of B12 difficult.

It so happens that Vitamin B12 is essential for good cognition and energy. To make matters worse, the patient’s dietary approach did not include Vitamin B12. This was a perfect storm that put her at risk. Armed with the right information, the patient quickly improved after making dietary changes and taking a form of oral B12 that her body could easily assimilate. Healthy Connections offers several different packages of care. There is Precision Primary Care, which includes an in-depth yearly assessment and check-up as well as ongoing acute care needs; and the clinic is a certified Retainer Medical Practice in the state of Oregon, part of the Direct Primary Care movement.

Additionally, they offer several Functional Medicine Care Packages, including a 12-week program called First Line Therapy, which specifically helps participants with weight loss, type 2 diabetes and cholesterol using targeted lifestyle approaches. One of the technological features of the clinic is a Bio-Impedance Analysis Machine, which provides detailed information about body composition (body fat, lean body mass, visceral fat) and potential health risks.

The “connections” part of Healthy Connections is evident in support groups facilitated by team member Heather Nielsen, LPC, a health coach and counselor; and Meg Becker, a yoga therapist. Love Your Life is a mindfulness lifestyle class that includes gentle yoga and movement, nutrition, loving-kindness and optimizing mood. Coming in 2019 are support groups for autoimmune disease and type 1 diabetes. She works directly with patients, helping them achieve the behavior and lifestyle changes that support balanced health. For Horacek, Healthy Connections is the culmination of a lifelong dream. “I’ve always viewed the body as an integrated system. When people ask what I do, I say I like to think of myself as an ‘inflammologist,’ who roots out the causes of illness. Healthy Connections gives me the opportunity to use scientific advances and bring these breakthroughs to achieve what we call resolution to chronic illness. I’ve seen it and it works.”

Both Horacek and Nielsen have a passion for teaching. They host free monthly “Doc Talks” with wide ranging topics of popular interest. The team at Healthy Connectionswill also speak with your group in the Gorge about healthy living and functional medicine approaches to achieve healthy longevity.

For more information, contact 541-716-5786.