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Working together –
small steps lead to measurable results

By Allison Hay
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Working together – small steps lead to measurable results

At age 66, Tom Shaffer has always considered himself to be fairly healthy. Over the years, it became normal for him to put on a few extra pounds during the winter months, then lose some or all of that weight during the summer. But, at a routine physical exam with his doctor in June, 2013, Tom learned the status of his good health may soon be in jeopardy.

“Tom’s weight had increased to the highest it had ever been,” said Dr. Joseph McGargill, family practice physician at Mercy East Family Practice. “He had high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic, which are both risk factors for more serious health complications.”

Dr. McGargill didn’t waste any time finding Tom the resources he needed to help him improve his health. Within just a few days, Tom met with Mercy Health Coach Andrea Carter to set goals and create a plan for living a healthier lifestyle.

“As a health coach, it’s my job to work with patients to create customized health care improvement plans and to provide ongoing education and support to patients as they make changes to improve their health,” said Carter. “When I first met Tom, he was very motivated to learn how he could make changes in his daily routine that would have long-term health benefits.”

After just a few coaching sessions, Tom was already beginning to see improvement.

“I now have a better understanding of how to nourish my body with healthy foods so I feel full and satisfied,” said Tom. “My health coach educated me about the effects different foods can have on my body and gave me the resources I needed to make healthy decisions when it came to specific foods and portion sizes.”

In six months, Tom has lost more than 45 pounds and has significantly reduced his risk for developing chronic health conditions. He credits tracking the food he eats every day as one of the most valuable tools that has helped him along in his journey to good health. He’s also gained self-discipline when it comes to going walking for exercise, something he tries to do as often as possible. Most importantly, Tom has gained a new friend.

“I really enjoy the visits with my health coach and I look forward to learning something new during each visit. Andrea provides the positive encouragement I need to stay on track,” said Tom.

Mercy Health Coach Q&A

What is a health coach?

Mercy health coaches are licensed, registered nurses who work with primary care providers to provide one-on-one care to help patients set and achieve health care improvement goals.

Who do health coaches help?

Health coaches frequently work with patients who have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, but they can provide education and support to anyone interested in improving their health.

How much do visits with a health coach cost?

Services provided by Mercy health coaches are free to patients who receive their primary care from a Mercy health care provider.

Where can I find a health coach?

Health coaches are stationed at Mercy primary care clinics. To schedule an appointment with a health coach, simply call your regular doctor’s office and ask to speak with the health coach.

Learn more.

To learn more about Mercy’s health coaches and how you can work together to improve your quality of life, call the Mercy Nurse at (515) 2-HEALTH.




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