The hot topic of health

Riderwood Health Forum prescribes healthy discussions

Created date

June 20th, 2019
The Riderwood Health Forum hosts speakers on a variety of topics related to health and medicine. Group organizer Jackie Michels (left) stands with residents Marge and Chuck Pulfrey who discussed their volunteer work with the Red Cross.

The Riderwood Health Forum hosts speakers on a variety of topics related to health and medicine. Group organizer Jackie Michels (left) stands with residents Marge and Chuck Pulfrey who discussed their volunteer work with the Red Cross.

People who live at Riderwood have the upper hand when it comes to health. Not only does the community have a full-service medical center with dedicated staff on campus, a state-of-the-art fitness center with personal trainers and group fitness classes, and an on-site continuing care neighborhood for additional care, if needed, but the Riderwood Health Forum hosts knowledgeable health and medical presentations.

Riderwood’s health forum has hosted speakers on topics such as multiple sclerosis, mental health, staying young, maintaining balance, bone health, bladder health, vitamin D, and grandparenting in the modern world.

Rich pool of experts

The group that founded the forum does bring in outside presenters, but they often find impressive speakers right on their own campus, in Silver Spring, Md. With so many retired professionals who have had fascinating careers in the medical field, it’s easy for the group to identify one of their own to present. 

“We have quite a few doctors and lots of nurses living here,” says Jackie Michels, the group’s founder. “There are social workers, psychologists, and all kinds of interesting people with varied backgrounds. We have a lot of talent here.”

Jackie spent her career as an oncology nurse. She started out working for a doctor and then took several years off to raise her children. She later took a refresher course at Georgetown University and resumed her career. She worked for an oncologist for many years and then was a breast care coordinator at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

She retired about a decade ago, and moved five years ago from Cheverly, Md., to Riderwood. There she encountered many neighbors who had also worked in the medical field, and the idea for the Riderwood Health Forum was born.

“We have so many interesting residents here, so if I am having a dinner conversation with someone and they happen to be in an interesting field, I ask them if they would be interested in speaking,” Jackie says. “I always try to be on the lookout for people who have an interesting perspective on a health topic.”

Jackie says one of her co-organizers meets many new neighbors and always takes note of those who have a background in health care or a unique medical story to share. 

“We had someone speak about his career at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] developing antiviral agents,” Jackie says. “We also had a couple of residents who spoke about their work volunteering with the Red Cross. The daughter of one of our residents is a urologist, and she spoke about robotic surgery. That was a very popular topic.”

All about health

The Riderwood Health Forum is well-liked by community members, and the presentations are well-attended. The speakers are video recorded, and their talks are later aired on Riderwood’s in-house television station so people who weren’t able to make the events can still see the presentations. 

“Health is of interest to everyone,” Jackie says. 

Jackie currently runs the Riderwood Health Forum with fellow residents Almeda Girod and Edie Daharsh. In the fall, Jackie plans to retire from her position and pass the leadership baton to Margaret Phillips. 

“She’s another nurse,” Jackie adds. 

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