OurHealth Patient Success: Jim’s Story

Jim Sturgeon says he never imagined the discomfort he felt in his chest signaled a far more serious problem.

“I was having sporadic chest pains off and on for a couple of weeks,” he says. “Initially, it started as a pressure in my chest. I had never felt it before, but I didn’t think it was my heart.”

Jim says it wasn’t really a sharp pain, but more of a dull pressure that initially lasted for a few moments. But after the symptoms became more frequent and long-lasting, he decided to seek medical help.

Jim saw nurse practitioner Elizabeth Jernagan during his initial visit at OurHealth @ Haynes Health Care Center, which he could access through his employer benefits at Haynes International in Kokomo, Indiana.

“She examined me and said, ‘You need to go and take a stress test,’” Jim says.

Two days later Jim went in for a cardiac ECG test, which involves walking on a treadmill while sensors measure how the heart responds to stress. He says he was on the treadmill for less than a minute before the nurse rushed to get a doctor.

“He looked at the monitors and said, ‘Stop, you need to sit down,’” Jim says. “They gave me nitroglycerin to calm my heart down and then started prepping me to be taken to the cardiology catheter unit to have an emergency procedure performed where they went up through my groin and put three stents in arteries coming out the right side of my heart. The following Tuesday I went back and they put two stents in the left side.”

What Jim didn’t realize is he was on the verge of having a heart attack. He says he’s fortunate Elizabeth immediately recognized his symptoms.

“It was primarily Elizabeth who diagnosed me,” he says. “Who knows if I would have died or had some major problem. I feel very fortunate Elizabeth was there and told me what to do. She very well may have saved my life.”

Jim says the fact that he was able to quickly schedule an appointment at OurHealth @ Haynes Health Care Center was another factor.

“I called that morning and got in that afternoon,” he says.

Today, Jim says he’s feeling much better – he’s started exercising regularly and he’s changed his diet. Most importantly, he says his heart wasn’t permanently damaged.

“I’m not ready to run a marathon but having blood flow to all regions of my heart is awesome,” he says. “This was a huge wake-up call. I got in at the right time and hopefully I now have a new lease on life.”

OurHealth Patient Success: Brandy’s Story

I first visited MyClinic @ Northlake approximately three years ago. Honestly, I’m not sure if I remember exactly why, but it was either to get my biometric screening or due to a cold. I can access the clinic through my husband’s employer benefits with the City of Charlotte.

At the time, I wasn’t actively in control of my health and was more than frustrated by the climbing co-pay every time I stepped into a doctor’s office. We heard we could access the Charlotte MyClinic network with no copay, and I admit I was more than skeptical at first. I thought, “There’s no way this is quality healthcare if there’s no copay and there are so many locations to choose from.” Reluctantly, though, and because I had lost hope in my previous primary care physician, I decided to schedule an appointment.

When I first met Dr. Teressa Watts, I was blown away. She is very attentive, knowledgeable and personable. At some point early on in our medical relationship, I ended up asking Dr. Watts, “So, could you be my primary doctor?” And thus, it began.

Before becoming Dr. Watts’ patient, I was already diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hypertension, prediabetes, anxiety and endometriosis with PCOS. I requested for all of my medical records to be sent to Dr. Watts and updated her on all my present-day medical conditions. It’s quite a laundry list of conditions to take on from a brand-new patient, but I think she could tell I was struggling to find a doctor that I could connect with, confide in and have hope in.

Shortly thereafter, I had an onset of tough allergies that I didn’t even know I had. I went through months of difficult breathing, chronic sinus infections and headaches. After several treatments of inhalers, nebulizers and steroids, Dr. Watts referred me to Carolina Asthma & Allergy—it was a real game changer! I’m now receiving two allergy injections weekly and haven’t suffered a sinus infection in over a year. I’m so thankful that Dr. Watts didn’t continue to drag out one round of antibiotics after another and one inhaler on top of the other. She realized something else was going on and was quick to refer me to an allergist. The entire process was very seamless.

My next obstacle – weight loss. Boy, what a challenge that is! Dr. Watts has never made me feel inferior or badly about my weight. She has always listened to every single complaint and treated each one individually while educating me on its relation to my overall health. Around the latter part of 2017, I voiced my sincerest desire to Dr. Watts to be healthier and lose weight. She was very realistic with me and explained that I shouldn’t expect too much from myself over the holiday season. She told me that it’s one small decision after another, and I have to tackle a different task daily and take small steps towards that giant goal. I made some drastic changes in my diet in January of 2018 and in February I joined Weight Watchers. By June, I had successfully lost over 60 pounds and couldn’t wait to see Dr. Watts again and show her.

At my most recent biometric screening, my waist is the smallest it has been in two years, my blood pressure is spectacular, I’m no longer at risk for prediabetes and my allergies are very well-managed.

Since becoming a patient of the OurHealth clinic, I’ve been able to find a wonderful balance for all of my different medications and for the first time in my life, I feel completely in control of my health. I know that I have a lot of work left to do, but I’m hopeful and supported in reaching my goals.

Dr. Watts and I communicate often on the OurHealth portal, in person and via phone consultations. I believe she has a vested interest in me, my health and my well-being. Dr. Watts understands my nuances and how particular I am about seeing different providers. She knows that I drive 45 minutes one way just to see her and she is always very respectful of my time with her.

I used to dread going to the doctor’s office. I used to feel completely hopeless—as if a good doctor didn’t even exist. The availability and accessibility of the OurHealth clinic cannot be matched. From the immediate sick visits at any of their locations, to the delivery of prescriptions from HomeMeds, I’m beyond impressed and so thankful. If I still feared having to call a doctor or drag myself into their office, there’s no doubt I would not be in such a healthy state of mind and body like I am now.

Thank you, Dr. Watts, and to each and every nurse and phone representative I’ve ever encountered at OurHealth! I’ve literally never had a single negative or unpleasant experience in over three years. Dr. Watts, Lori Buckner, Teresa Watson, Beth Scheck and Nichelle Simpson have changed my life. I’m so humbled and beyond blessed to be their patient (their favorite patient, I’m sure!).

– Brandy Teets, OurHealth Patient

OurHealth Patient Success: Adam’s Story

Adam Finn of Indianapolis says he struggled with obesity for most of his adult life. Several unsuccessful attempts at weight loss over the years left him feeling jaded, so he never imaged a routine medical appointment with OurHealth would be the catalyst for significant change.

Adam first visited OurClinic @ Woodland in August of 2018 for a medication consultation. The clinic provides onsite primary care and wellness services for Genesys employees in Indianapolis.

During his consultation, Adam saw Tish Lynch, a physician assistant at OurHealth. Tish performed routine lab work that revealed he had high blood sugar and elevated levels of fat in his liver, also referred to as fatty liver disease.

Tish warned Adam that if left untreated, fatty liver disease can cause serious damage to the liver. It was a stark wake-up call, to say the least.

Adam says Tish then suggested he meet with Debbie Richardson, a certified health coach with OurHealth.

“I was a little skeptical at first because I’ve been on a weight rollercoaster for probably 15 years and I’ve been on huge swings,” he says. “I didn’t know that a health coach would be able to tell me anything I didn’t already know. I figured ‘Hey, it’s here, it’s a resource so I’ll give it a shot.’”

Getting Back on Track

Adam began meeting regularly with Debbie to chart a healthy path forward, which involved improving his diet and getting more exercise. Rather than taking drastic steps and cutting out entire food groups, Adam says they took a more practical approach and focused on moderation.

“I haven’t eliminated anything from my diet,” he says. “Now, I’m really focused on portions. Debbie has helped me realize and helped hold me accountable that if I want some cookies, I’ll just have two.”

Adam says being held accountable to someone outside of his close circle of friends and family played a major role in his success.

“In the back of my mind, I want to perform well and show results,” he says. “So, that’s just an intrinsic factor that keeps me going.”

While he needed help getting his diet under control, Adam says Tish’s warning was all the motivation he needed to start moving.

“I’ve been on a complete tear,” he says. “I haven’t missed a day of exercise in 80 days, whether it’s walking, elliptical, running or weight lifting. It’s just been a huge change.”

Within five months of starting health coaching with OurHealth, Adam says he’s shed an impressive 50 pounds, his liver is healthy and his blood sugar has dropped to a normal level. More importantly, he feels like he has a new outlook on life.

“What’s different this time about any other weight loss I’ve gone through is the confidence I’ve gained through my interactions, and I’ve realized I don’t need to be so negative on myself,” he says. “What’s happened in the past has happened. I can’t change that.”

Adam says he’s confident he’ll continue to lead a healthy lifestyle and is excited about the future. Ultimately, he’s grateful to have Debbie and the clinic staff located onsite at Genesys.

“Everybody has been super friendly,” he says. “It’s been an excellent experience and I would recommend it to anybody.”

OurHealth Patient Success: Andrenetta’s Story

For years, Andrenetta Galloway of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department suffered from “strange” health symptoms that included unexplained rashes, severe leg and foot pain, debilitating headaches and extreme fatigue.

At first, the symptoms would come and go, but overtime they became so severe she could no longer function. Desperate to find the cause of her agony, Andrenetta says she visited four different doctors, but none seemed to understand what was wrong.

“I had been on multiple medications and none of them were working,” she says. “They’d do basic blood work and say, ‘We can’t find anything serious to be worried about.’”

But Andrenetta clearly knew something was wrong.

“I was missing a lot of work and lost a lot of weight,” she says. “I was so sick and couldn’t get any information on what was wrong with me. I didn’t know if I had cancer or what. I was scared to death.”

One day, Andrenetta saw a flyer hanging in the police department promoting OurHealth benefits for City of Charlotte employees and decided to schedule an appointment.

She met with Dr. Teressa Watts, OurHealth regional medical director, during her initial appointment, and admits she was surprised by her in-depth questioning.

“At the time, I was kind of laughing that she wanted to know my entire life history,” Andrenetta says. “But I was thinking in the back of my mind, ‘What if I find out what’s wrong with me?’”

Near the end of her appointment, Dr. Watts asked Andrenetta if she’d ever been tested for lupus.

“She said, ‘I really feel like we need to explore it,’” Andrenetta says. “She told me what the testing would involve and gave me really in-depth information. I was satisfied with what she said as far as the route we were going to take. For once, it felt like someone was trying to help me.”

The test results confirmed Dr. Watts’ suspicion, and Andrenetta was diagnosed with lupus.

She’s now in treatment and has to have infusion therapy a couple of times per month, but ultimately, she feels significantly better.

“I’m not going to say I’m 100 percent now, but I’m 100 percent better than I was before I started dealing with Dr. Watts at the clinic,” she says. “I’m on a lot of different medications, but they are the right medications.”

After four miserable years, Andrenetta says she’s relieved to know the cause of her suffering.

“I’m grateful that the City came up with this because I don’t know what shape I’d be in right now if I hadn’t started seeing Dr. Watts,” Andrenetta says. “She took the time to go the extra mile and help me.”

OurHealth Patient Success: Tom’s story

Maintenance supervisor Thomas Books was at a routine appointment to refill a prescription when Elizabeth Jernagan, a family nurse practitioner at OurHealth @ Haynes Health Care Center, asked how he’d been feeling.

“I told her that I felt like an 80-year-old man trapped in a 60-year-old body,” Books says.

Books’ symptoms included feeling tired and sluggish, and he noticed he was drained of energy by 10 a.m. each day. He mentioned those symptoms to his family doctor, but never felt like the doctor paid much attention to his concerns.

Jernagan clearly thought Books’ symptoms warranted further attention.

“She sent me to have a stress test, which I failed,” Books says. “Then they sent me to Howard Community to have a heart catheterization and the doctor said I was so blocked up that even eight stints wouldn’t open me up.”

Less than a week later, Books underwent quadruple bypass surgery in Indianapolis—a procedure that likely saved his life.

“I’m glad somebody finally listened to me,” Books says. “I like how much time they take with us – they actually have the time. I’m glad Elizabeth listened to me and I’m really happy with the referrals OurHealth gave me. It’s nice they take the time to do that.”

Now in rehab therapy, Books says he’s making solid progress in his recovery

“I feel pretty good,” he says. “I’m short-winded, which is to be expected from having quadruple bypass surgery, but I definitely feel a lot better.”

OurHealth Patient Success: Mark’s Story

Officer Mark Parrott’s beat with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department keeps him in top physical shape, so he knew something was wrong when his health took a dramatic turn.

“I started having increased thirst, increased urination and I noticed weight loss after that,” Parrott says. “It progressed for almost a week and I lost close to 10 pounds.”

Parrott could access OurHealth’s MyClinic network with no co-pay through his employer benefits with the City of Charlotte, so he scheduled an appointment at MyClinic @ Wilkinson Blvd.

Parrott’s symptoms were common indicators for diabetes, so the clinic staff performed a hemoglobin A1c test to check his blood sugar. The results were shocking — his A1c was upwards of 11. An A1c of 6.5 and above indicates diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic, and Parrott was diagnosed with diabetes.

His provider started him on medication, and Parrott began checking his blood sugar daily, but his symptoms didn’t improve much. On a return visit, his provider recommended he meet with Lynn Campbell, a Certified Diabetes Educator with OurHealth.

Getting Back on Track

Campbell helped Parrott develop his diabetes self-management skills, which included taking insulin shots with each meal and monitoring his carb intake to control his blood sugar. Within a few days, he started to feel better, and after a few weeks he returned to his normal weight, but his A1c still hovered around 9.

That’s when Parrott saw an ad for a device that attaches to the skin and monitors blood glucose 24/7. He mentioned it to Campbell, and with her blessing, began using it to more accurately measure his blood sugar.

“That has helped a lot with me being able to provide accurate numbers to Lynn because before I was just pricking my finger 6 to 8 times a day, and it might have been during a low period or a high period,” Parrott says.

Within a few weeks of using the device, Parrott says his A1c dropped to 6.5. “The doctor thought that was excellent for only having diabetes for a little over a year,” he says.

Today, Parrott says he feels as good as he did before the symptoms began, and his only issue now involves the occasional dizziness that occurs when his blood sugar level drops. When he’s on patrol, Campbell suggested Parrott keep fast-acting glucose tablets on hand to bring his blood sugar back up.

“I’ve actually had to use them a number of times because sometimes it gets so low and you have nothing available to you to bring it up,” he says.

Parrott says he feels grateful to have the clinic benefit and wonders how long he would have waited for treatment if he didn’t have the option.

“In all honestly, I would have waited until I found a doctor available to take me if it had not been for the fact that OurHealth has no co-pay for me.”

Father of 6 Finds New Hope After Tragedy

Rick Huffman says he was overweight for most of his life. He noticed when people stared at him, and found comfort hiding behind baggy clothes.

The father of six works at CNO Financial in Indiana. Huffman also serves as Worship Director at his church, United Family Wesleyan, where he sings and plays keyboards and guitar. Between church and his kids’ sports, the Huffman’s would often turn to fast food.

“We were just kind of couch potatoes,” Huffman says. “You know, watching TV and ordering pizza.”

In 2007, Huffman experienced the unthinkable: His daughter died in a tragic accident. Huffman says his focus turned to comforting his family through the pain. But he found comfort in food.

“During this time, I never really weighed myself because, to be frank, I just didn’t care,” Huffman says.

Over the next few years, Huffman says he continued to eat aimlessly and gain weight. He reached 360 pounds and his waist grew to a size 44.

In 2012, CNO turned to OurHealth to provide primary care and wellness services for its employees. Huffman hadn’t seen a doctor in several years, but he decided to participate in the company’s wellness incentive program, which rewards employees who complete an annual biometric screening. His results were a stark wake-up call.

“I found out my blood pressure was high and my cholesterol was high and I was starting to develop a risk for heart disease,” Huffman says.

He began taking prescribed medication for hypertension and high cholesterol, and tried to lose weight, but he says he was mostly unsuccessful.

“It wasn’t until August 2016 when my eyes where really opened for the first time,” Huffman says. “My wife was told that due to her arthritis, if she didn’t start losing weight that she wouldn’t be able to walk later in life.”

His kids were also gaining weight, and Huffman says he realized his choices had impacted his family’s health, too.

“I needed to show my family that it wasn’t too late for us, that we could make these changes and we can change our lifestyle for the better,” he says.

A second chance

CNO’s incentive program includes free health coaching for employees who don’t meet healthy biometric targets, so Huffman decided to give it a shot and started meeting with Keena Sowers-Zinn, a health coach with OurHealth.

“She helped me to learn how to eat healthier,” Huffman says.  “I was never taught how to pick the right kind of food. She’s been the guiding light there to help me make that change.”

Huffman says Sowers-Zinn would ask him to set monthly goals. To cut back on eating out, she challenged him to buy healthy foods and eat home-cooked meals three times per week. At the end of each month, he’d report back to Zinn.

“The accountability was a big factor,” he says. “Just having that support gave me confidence I didn’t know I had. And when I did make progress, having that praise and that reassurance that you can keep going was a big help.”

Huffman says his family grilled a lot of chicken, and Sowers-Zinn recommended they always keep vegetables on hand for when the kids wanted a snack.

With his newfound confidence, Huffman started exercising at CNO’s onsite gym, eventually working his way up to 4 to 5 times per week.

Small steps, big results

Huffman admits their lifestyle changes weren’t always easy, but they stuck with it—as a family—and the results were life-changing.

“All of my children have lost weight,” he says. “We eat at home more often—we hardly ever eat out. We’re walking more and getting more activity.”

Huffman says he’s lost more than 100 pounds and trimmed his waist size by nearly 12 inches. And because he lost weight, his blood pressure and cholesterol have become manageable without medication.

“I really didn’t realize how bad I did feel until I started feeling better,” he says. “I knew I was overweight, but I didn’t think I had a big problem because I was healthy enough to do things with my kids.”

Huffman says he’s maintained his 100-pound weight loss for almost two years. But what’s most impressive is the Huffman family has lost a combined 300 pounds.

-Story by Mike LaFollette

Mindful Eating Helps OurHealth Employee Reverse Diabetes

Dave Smith of Indianapolis calls himself a gamer. In the past, a typical weekend for Dave often meant hours in front of the TV, controller in hand, junk food by his side and a never-ending supply of Mountain Dew and Red Bull.

“I really never paid a lot of attention to my healthcare as well as I should have,” says Dave, a database administrator at OurHealth. “I’m a Midwestern guy. I love my tenderloins and lots and lots of terrible foods.”

But Dave was starting to think about his health. His father had been diagnosed with diabetes a few years prior and warned Dave to be on the lookout. And, in 2016, Dave fell and suffered a tibial plateau fracture that required surgery and a titanium plate being inserted into his leg. During recovery, he developed blood clots and was laid up for six months with little to no activity, leading to a 50-pound weight gain.

In the spring of 2017, Dave scheduled a biometric screening offered as part of OurHealth’s wellness incentive program, including a hemoglobin A1c test. The results showed his blood glucose A1c measured 7.2, revealing he had Type 2 diabetes. A hemoglobin A1c test correlates to a patient’s blood sugar over the previous 90 days. A reading above 6.5 indicates a diagnosis of diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“When I got my diagnosis, I thought, ‘This will not stand. I’ve got to take care of this.’”

Dave didn’t waste any time. He went home that night and threw away all the junk food in his house.

“I knew I didn’t have the willpower to not eat it,” he says. “Because, that’s what I did—Hostess cakes, chips, no portion control. I had to learn to break that habit.”

Dave had access to a health coach and a Certified Diabetes Educator through his OurHealth benefits, so he began meeting with them regularly, and together they created a plan to improve his diet, increase his activity and ultimately reduce is A1c.

Dave Smith, OurHealth

Dave Smith has lost 35 pounds since changing his diet. His ultimate goal is to lose another 15.

Dave says the main goal—and most challenging—was improving his eating habits. He began eating at regular times and portioning out his food, and instead of eliminating all his favorite foods, he switched to healthier alternatives that were low in carbs, sugar and fat.

To replace the sugary soda, Dave says he tried just about every sugar-free soda on the planet until he found one (Zevia) that didn’t taste disgusting. For those hours-long gaming marathons, he fueled up with sugar-free Red Bull.

“It’s a lot of minor things like switching from white potatoes to russets and reds because they have less sugar and less actionable carbs in them,” he says. “Boneless, skinless chicken is what I subside on. But I’m very fortunate because my roommate is a former professional chef. He can do amazing things with boneless, skinless chicken.”

Dave’s leg injury left him with permanent loss of flexibility, limiting his exercise options. He focused on yoga and walking at least 3,000 steps per day, including taking strolls at lunch and venturing out around the neighborhood with his dogs.

By the following spring, Dave says his lifestyle changes began to pay off. OurHealth’s 2018 incentive program had just begun so Dave scheduled his annual biometric screening at MyClinic @ 96th St. in Indianapolis.

“When I got my most recent labs for our new incentives, my A1c was 5.4, which is non-diabetic,” he says. “[OurHealth physician] Dr. Pallekonda told me if I get two more in a row out of the diabetic range—the diagnosis comes off my chart.”

Dave credits his success to working with the clinic staff and the incentive program at OurHealth, which contributes money to an employee’s health savings account if they complete a biometric screening and other healthy activities.

“The staff at the clinic and the diabetes educators and health coaches have all been instrumental to me to do this,” he says. “For one, I wouldn’t have known that I needed to do it, and the support and encouragement I received made a big difference.”

Dave says he feels fortunate that he never hit any major roadblocks along the way and believes he was successful because he focused on small, attainable goals that added up to a larger cause.

“It’s a lot easier when you break these things down into smaller chunks,” he says. “You also get that ongoing sense of achievement. It’s like in a video game. You beat all the mini bosses on the way to the big boss. You know, it’s like, ‘Hey, I just took out the boss’s lieutenant. I’m ready to fight the big fight.’”

Today, Dave says he has more energy and no longer feels sluggish in the afternoon. He’s sleeping better and doesn’t drink as much caffeine. He’s shed 35 of the 50 pounds he gained after his surgery, and he’s committed to maintaining a healthy diet and losing the remaining 15 pounds.

“It’s funny because now even ketchup tastes way too sweet,” he says. “Now I’m like, ‘I don’t want that. That’s awful.’ I’m trying to eat more whole foods and more vegetables—I had no idea I like asparagus.”

Ultimately, Dave says it was the biometric screening that was the catalyst for his health transformation.

“That one lab result literally changed my life,” he says. “I’m glad I had the screening. One blood draw, and the results were life-altering. If I didn’t have the clinic benefit and the incentive program, I’d probably still be where I was—over 300 pounds and sluggish and unhealthy.”

Health Coaching Leads to 80-Pound Weight Loss

By Mike LaFollette

For years, Mike Hartle put his body through the ringer. As a welder for BraunAbility, he’s used to 10-hour days working with his hands.

With little time to spare, Hartle would often grab lunch from the vending machines at work. By late 2017, he says he tipped the scales at 330 pounds.

“I was consuming 4,300 to 4,800 calories a day, and that’s how I got so large so quick,” he says. “A lot of that was just careless eating out of the work vending machines.”

Hartle also works a side gig in the carnival circuit, and his weight made it hard to keep up with the other performers.

“I was so unphysically fit and unhealthy that I was starting to get injuries,” he says. “I just couldn’t perform, and I was just tired of being tired all the time. When you’re that large, just being on your feet 10 hours a day is a chore.”

Hartle knew he needed to get his weight under control, not just for himself, but also for his son.

“I’m a single father and my boy just turned 14,” he says. “I want to be healthy enough to take care of him and not worry something bad will happen to me. My mother never made it to 60. She was overweight her whole life. I thought, ‘If I don’t change now, I won’t either.”’

Hartle was ready to make that change. A friend persuaded him to try the Isagenix diet, a protein shake-based diet. At first, the weight seemed to melt away, but Hartle says he eventually hit a plateau.

“I hit 300 pounds and I was just kind of bouncing there between 290 and 300,” he says. “I wasn’t really sure if I was doing it right. I thought, ‘You know, I just need a little more advice. Someone with a little more experience to guide me.’’’

Hartle saw a flyer at work advertising free health coaching through his employer-sponsored OurHealth benefits and decided to give it a try.

He began meeting bimonthly with Connie Foerg a health coach at OurClinic @ Braun, an on-site clinic for Braun employees, spouses and dependents.

“If you talk to someone with experience they can help you filter out the bad ideas and bad information and tell you to keep doing what you’re doing on certain things and to stop doing others,” Hartle says. “That was really what I was looking for, and what I thought was helpful. Anybody who’s ever done the protein shake stuff knows you get burnt out pretty quickly.”

Foerg helped Hartle find healthier alternatives to foods he liked, and he started monitoring his calorie intake. At each meeting, Hartle says he’d weigh in to gauge his progress and Foerg would ask him about his eating habits. Hartle also began working out at the gym four times per week.

The combination of exercise and healthy eating worked and by the Spring of 2018, he’d shed an additional 50 pounds.

“Mike was determined to lose the weight and I feel like that was why he was successful,” Foerg says. “He had all the tools — he just needed a little help and accountability.”

Hartle agrees the accountability helped him stay on track.

“You can do stuff on your own motive, but when you’ve got to come in and check with somebody, you’re going to weigh in and explain why you gained weight or why you lost weight,” he says. “It’s the accountability. It’s easy to let yourself down but when you have somebody else who’s in your corner, you don’t want to let them down.”

Hartle says he’s happy with the progress, and his ultimate goal is to get below 240 pounds. His clothes now fit differently, or no longer fit at all. But best of all, he feels better.

“I have a lot more energy now, especially after I started working out,” he says. “I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the body aches. I feel more mobile, more energetic, just a lot healthier.”

Looking back, Hartle says he’s glad he changed his lifestyle, and hopes others will take advantage of the health coaching benefit.

“I encourage others to do it,” he says. “People just need to realize how easy it is to enroll and how nice the people are and not to be intimidated.”

Focus on Family Helps Detective Solve Health Problems

Detective Will Vasquez assumed his first OurHealth appointment would be routine. His primary care provider had recently left practice and he needed to refill a prescription for hypertension, so he scheduled a medication consultation at MyClinic @ PNC in Indianapolis.

But during that initial visit, Vasquez, a 16-year veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, says the clinic staff didn’t just hand him a prescription—they wanted to know why he was taking medication in the first place.

“I was impressed,” Vasquez says. “They didn’t just write a prescription and say, ‘we’ll see you later.’”

Vasquez told the clinic staff how he’d gained weight after a foot surgery a few years ago and had struggled to lose it. More importantly, he mentioned how a previous health screening had found he was at risk for diabetes.

Vasquez says the nurse decided to check his urine for sugar—a sign of diabetes, and when the test came back positive, she asked him to return to the clinic a few days later for a blood draw.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Vasquez says. “She sat me down after I did the blood draw and she said, ‘Well, you’ve got diabetes. Your A1c level is 8, which is in the diabetes range.’”

A hemoglobin A1c test correlates to a patient’s blood sugar over the previous 90 days. A reading above 6.5 indicates diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“It was real gut punch because I’ve got a family and three kids at home,” Vasquez says. “I need to be healthy to see them graduate high school and get married and all that good stuff. That was a big reality check for me.”

While the news was disappointing, the nurse told Vasquez he could turn things around by making healthy lifestyle changes, and Vasquez says he was up for the challenge.

Getting Back on Track

Together, they quickly put an action plan in place, including updating his hypertension medication, and setting up regular meetings with Lauren Hutchens, senior wellness program manager for OurHealth, and Joanne Lewis, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), which were all included at no cost to Vasquez as a part of his employer’s OurHealth benefits.

“That helped me out—having the support system,” Vasquez says. “But the main driver was my family and wanting to be around for them for a lot longer.”

Hutchens and Lewis worked closely with Vasquez to improve his diet. “We explored what he had done in the past, what he was currently doing, and what his ultimate goals were for his health,” Hutchens says. “It was obvious from the beginning how much Det. Vasquez cared about his family and really wanted to get healthier.”

Vasquez says he cut out fast food, and when he did eat out, he’d check the restaurant’s menu in advance so he could make a healthy selection—and stick with it. He also started reading food labels, limited snacking to only fruit between meals, and found healthier substitutions for foods he loved, such as swapping in PopChips for regular potato chips. “They really opened my eyes on proper things to eat,” Vasquez says. I really took that stuff to heart.”

Vasquez also started exercising regularly, but admits it wasn’t always easy. “Sometimes I had to talk myself into exercising when I didn’t want to,” he says. To get more exercise while working a part-time security job, Vasquez started patrolling the grounds on foot instead of sitting idle in his squad car.

Vasquez says the hard work ultimately paid off. In a little more than 90 days, he reduced his blood pressure, and saw his A1c decrease from 8 to 5.5, which is considered a normal healthy measure. As an added bonus, he also lost more than 35 pounds.

“I feel a whole lot better,” Vasquez says. “It’s a lot easier for me to get up and go do something where as before I was always physically drained and didn’t want to do anything. The only drawback is that I’ve had to buy smaller pants.”