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Local Woman Exemplifies Caring for Self, and Community

Concerns about her blood pressure and the need for a refill of her medication to control it led an ageless Vel Scott to the family medicine clinic at Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital.

“I went in periodically to have my blood pressure checked. The numbers there were high compared to the readings I got from my home monitor,” says Vel. “One day, I told the nurse practitioner I was looking for a different doctor. She said there was a new doctor on staff who was very kind and patient, with good energy, and she thought I’d like him.”

Three weeks later, Vel had her first appointment with Robert Saper, MD, MPH, a family medicine physician specializing in wellness and preventive medicine.

“We found that Vel, like many people, experiences ‘white coat syndrome’. This occurs when blood pressure readings at a healthcare provider’s office are higher than they are in other settings, like home,” says Dr. Saper.

While reassured that her blood pressure was being effectively managed with medication, Vel’s weight was up a bit, she was borderline diabetic and had very early-stage kidney disease.

Upon learning that Vel was committed to living a healthy lifestyle and taking a holistic approach to her health, Dr. Saper referred her to Jessica Ruff, MD, MA, MSPH, a staff physician in Cleveland Clinic’s department of Wellness and Preventive Medicine.

“There is something to be said for having shared experiences as a way of healing, and one of the things that is important to Vel, and to minority patients overall, is to have someone as your physician who looks like you,” says Dr. Ruff. While any conversation about weight is a delicate one, Vel and Dr. Ruff were able to make a connection that led to trust.

“When I met Vel, she was eating healthy but she wasn’t consuming enough calories which can put the body into starvation mode to hold on to nutrients,” explains Dr. Ruff. “We increased the variety and quantity of food she ate and developed an exercise plan which helped her lose weight, reduce her blood pressure medicine, improve her mood and more.”

To address knee and back pain that had resulted from increased exercise, Drs. Ruff and Saper recommended acupuncture and yoga. While initially skeptical, Vel quickly realized the benefits of both.

Vel and her late husband Don owned and operated a popular entertainment complex for over 35 years, so they had a strong commitment to and relationship with their community. In 2008, Vel’s Purple Oasis, a community-based urban garden opened on land the Scott’s own in University Circle, bordering Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood. The property is also the site of the New Image Lifeskills Academy, where area residents can learn to prepare healthy meals using foods from the garden.

“When we first met, Vel invited me to come see the garden, and I did,” says Dr. Saper. “Natural foods are a key aspect of wellness, and the garden provides the community with access to healthy, whole foods.”

Vel introduced free yoga classes to her community as well, making them available on the property in partnership with Cleveland Clinic’s departments of Community Health and Partnerships and Wellness and Preventive Medicine.

“I took my health issues into my own hands and with guidance from health professionals who care about me, achieved great results. I want to do the same for my community,” says Vel.

Related Institutes: Wellness & Preventive Medicine
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