Columbus Community Hospital president benefits from healthy lifestyle program

COLUMBUS, Neb. -- When Columbus Community Hospital President and CEO Mike Hansen wanted to improve his overall well-being, he didn’t need to look far for help.

Hansen signed up for the Complete Health Improvement Program, a three-month-long course at the hospital that promotes healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes. CCH has offered the program, commonly known as CHIP, for five years. Since then, more than 400 people have completed it, including Hansen, who was part of the most recent graduating class.

CHIP teaches participants how to make lifestyle changes that last to prevent chronic diseases. Even though Hansen considered himself healthy, he wanted to “fine-tune” aspects of his life to address some concerns.

“The big thing for me is reducing stress,” Hansen said. “I also wanted to improve my blood pressure and cholesterol because I have a family history of heart disease.”

CHIP proved to be the perfect vehicle for Hansen to make positive changes in his life because of the program’s complete approach to wellness. He took what he learned in CHIP to heart, and the results showed it works. His blood pressure and cholesterol have improved, he has reduced stress, and he has incorporated more physical activity into his life.

“It was a very valuable experience, and I would encourage anyone to participate in CHIP,” Hansen said. “What I love about the program is that it takes a more comprehensive approach to your overall health.”

CHIP was developed in 1986 by Dr. Hans Diehl, a clinical professor of preventative medicine at Loma Linda University in California. It is a scientifically proven lifestyle intervention program designed to prevent, treat and reverse chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers.

“When it comes to these common killer diseases, the traditional medical approach of pills and procedures is largely limited to providing symptomatic relief,” Diehl said. “As important and valuable as that may be at the time of discomfort, this approach rarely is able to provide a cure, since the root causes of these chronic diseases are prominently embedded in behavior patterns, personal choices and cultural mores.”

Diehl said CHIP provides the education, motivation, inspiration and support to help people make the healthy choice the easy choice.

“We applaud Columbus Community Hospital and its leadership for making this service available to its members and the community," he said.

Another recent graduate from CHIP is Patrick Peer, chief executive officer of East Central District Health Department. Peer has improved his biometric numbers by taking part in the program, his energy has increased and he is sleeping better.

“This is a wonderful program,” Peer said. “The curriculum is well designed and expertly presented. I would encourage anyone who is fighting obesity or other ailments to give it a shot. Twelve weeks may sound like a long time, but the program went by quickly.”

CCH offers CHIP in 18 one-hour classes. Participants receive a workbook, cookbook and online textbook to help them in their journey to a healthier lifestyle. They undergo biometric screenings and bloodwork at the beginning, midpoint and end to measure how their health numbers have improved by participating in the CHIP lifestyle.

CHIP classes are in group settings, which allows participants to support each other. The classes have continued virtually at CCH during the coronavirus pandemic. For more information about CHIP or to register, call Ileana Jarecki at 402-562-4480 or email her at