Jeffrey Galvin, MD - Vitality Medical Wellness Institute
First off a little bit about my background… I was born a military brat and spent my early years overseas. My family ultimately settled in Syracuse, New York. Growing up I always had an interest in science. There is true nobility in the healing arts and I always felt a calling towards medicine. I went to The State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton and ultimately attended medical school at the SUNY Health Science Center at Syracuse. It was there that I met my amazing wife, Paula.
After finishing my internship, I completed a residency in Emergency Medicine at Boston Medical Center. Training in Emergency Medicine and Trauma in an inner city hospital at the height of the crack epidemic was interesting to say the least. From Boston we moved to Hampton, Virginia where I served as a major in the U.S. Air Force, practicing at Langley Air Force Base. After finishing my service with the military we moved to Concord, NC. I have been practicing at Carolinas Medical Center, NorthEast with Cabarrus Emergency Medicine Associates for the past nine years. In the 16 years I’ve been practicing in the Emergency Department I have cared for roughly 50,000 patients. Believe me, I have truly seen it all!
Paula and I have been married for 19 happy years and have been blessed with three children. She is my partner in all things and is an integral part of the Vitality Medical Wellness Institute family.
My path to Paleo and wellness in general was a bit different than some. Many Paleo proponents started off as uber athletes and nutrition fanatics, I like most people, was not. I consider myself more of a regular guy. Yeah, I would try to workout and eat right but it seemed life would always get in the way. A stressful job in the Emergency Department and raising 3 kids sidetracked all of my good fitness and health intentions. As the years went on I started gaining weight and ignored my fitness goals even more. It was always in my mind to “get back into shape just as soon as I get done with X (fill in your stressor of the week)”. As usually happens stressor Y would come along and replace X and the whole healthy living thing just never happened. My energy level dropped and my weight ballooned. I would come home from the ER exhausted, unable to play with my kids because of fatigue. My diet was a mess and my health began to suffer. One January morning I looked in the mirror and was disgusted. I was 40 pounds overweight, looked terrible and felt even worse. I went to work that day and the first patient I cared for was a 43-year-old male who presented in cardiac arrest. He was 30 lbs overweight and had been diagnosed with hypertension and type 2 diabetes a few years earlier. Collapsing while getting his mail, he was found by his eight-year-old daughter. He had suffered a massive heart attack and despite all of our efforts we could not save him. As I walked into the family room to tell his wife and children the horrible news, I realized that I was on the same path as this man. That could be me lying on that gurney and my family about to have their world shattered. A light bulb went on. I realized if I didn’t take control of my own health I was going to end up like this poor man or like so many of the others I cared for daily in the ER. Obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes in my 40’s, insulin dependant diabetes and vascular disease in my 50’s and heart attacks and strokes in my 60’s. All laced with a significant risk of sudden death from heart disease anywhere along that timeline. Forget about making it into my 70’s. I didn’t want my children to grow up without a father or to never meet my grandchildren. I resolved to change my lifestyle and take charge of my own health.
I began to study the latest research on health and nutrition, discovered the benefits of paleo and decided to adopt the lifestyle. Within 5 months I had dropped those extra 40 lbs of excess baggage, my blood pressure was perfect and my lab work was even better. I was feeling great. A few months later I discovered crossfit and added that to my routine. Now at 44 I’m in the best physical shape of my life and feel and (according to my lovely wife), look great.
A funny thing happened during this journey back to good health. I began getting more and more frustrated with the medical system. So much of the illness I saw on a daily basis was due to preventable disease. Smoking, obesity, poorly controlled diabetes and hypertension were the direct cause of many of the medical disasters I was seeing. Everyday I was dealing with the results of people’s poor lifestyle decisions. I began asking my patients questions about their diet and lifestyle. What I discovered was sobering. Most of them had no concept of what the right things to do were. Their doctors were overworked and didn’t have the time to spend educating them about their health problems. Some had a vague understanding of nutrition and exercise, but most just relied on their meds to “take care” of their problems. We as physicians were failing these patients. The current system of medical care makes it nearly impossible for physicians to spend time with their patients and really look at their health. The typical primary care doctor can only spend 20 minutes per year with each patient. There is simply no time when they need to see 22 patients a day to survive. So we prefer the quick fix of a new pill to the harder choice of trying to prevent the need for the pill in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong. I love medicine and truly believe it is still a calling to serve others. But I feel the need to do more. Our goal at Vitality Medical Wellness Institute is to help our patients break out of the cycle of band-aid treatments for chronic disease. We strive to create healthy lifestyles for our patients that will prevent disease and lead to long, healthy and fulfilling lives. Many of these chronic diseases can actually be cured by proper attention to nutrition and fitness. The hardest part is that the cure doesn’t come in a pill bottle, it comes from a dedication to change and a focus on one’s own health. We strive to give our patients the tools and the guidance needed to succeed. Our ultimate goal is not healthy 30 and 40 year olds, it is healthy 80 and 90 year olds.