For Sean Kostkowski, president and founder of CoreLife Healthcare, the decision to launch his groundbreaking company was a personal one.
Throughout his childhood, Kostkowski watched his brother struggle with his weight. As he prepared to start college, Kostkowski’s parents were so concerned about his brother’s health that they considered delaying his first year of college to focus on getting healthy.
However, finding the right kind of help was impossible. Despite the well-known health risks of living with excess weight, the family’s primary care physician simply suggested joining a gym and trying a well-known retail weight loss program.
“It was heartbreaking and incredibly frustrating for my brother,” Kostkowski recalls.
The difficulty of finding medical help for what was clearly a health issue did not feel right to Kostkowski. A college student at the time, he wanted to help his brother find a better answer but did not know where to start.
“When we began to look into this, we started to understand the complexity of obesity as a disease, and frankly, the lack of understanding within the healthcare community about how to address and manage it as a disease.”
It was not until 2013 that the American Medical Association recognized obesity as a discrete disease with its own symptoms and progression, opening doors for finding new approaches to treatment. The causes of obesity are varied, layered, and wide-ranging from social, genetic, lifestyle, medical, and environmental factors.
While patients receive medical care for health conditions like heart disease, stroke, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint pain, they are rarely able to find a solution for the root cause – which for many is excess body weight.
“While there are a lot of retail weight loss options – where you ‘lose 10 pounds in 10 days with a money-back guarantee’, it can be nearly impossible to find anything grounded in evidence-based principles,” Kostkowski said. “On the other end of the spectrum you have surgical options, but that might not be a fit for everyone.
“We want to help patients living with excess weight move beyond acute, episodic care to focus on long-term health improvement, maintenance, and prevention.”
So, Kostkowski came up with a novel idea: an obesity treatment and weight management company that combines a person’s medical, nutrition, exercise, and behavioral health care all under one roof, in a patient-centered, comfortable, and non-judgmental environment.
In 2012, with the support of his family, Kostkowski opened CoreLife’s first location in Maryland with a handful of part-time staff.
Ten years later, CoreLife is a nationally recognized program with health centers located in four states, helping hundreds of thousands of people annually to successfully take charge of their own health. The company partners with major hospital systems, and is expanding its partnerships and footprint to more
than 12 states in the near future.
“Most of our patients are referred by other doctors, and we have a lot of patients tell us they have tried everything,” Kostkowski said. “We serve individuals who are seeking a greater level of intervention, accountability, and support than what they have found elsewhere – whether through their healthcare provider, retail programs, or surgical options.”
While CoreLife was created as a trusted resource to physicians and the medical community, Kostkowski said the secret to the company’s ongoing success is its people. CoreLife’s medical providers, registered dietitians, behavioral health clinicians, exercise specialists, and staff truly care about patients and their
weight loss journeys.
“Our team members believe in what we do. They are the ones delivering care, cheering on our patients’ successes, acting as coaches, mentors, and accountability partners. Our teammates are empowering our patients to take control of their health, and in doing so they are making a difference not just for that individual but for their families and future generations,” Kostkowski said.
“To me, every one of those patients represents my brother.”