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OurHealth Patient Success: Lisa’s Story

Athletics have always been a big part of Lisa Herron’s life. She’s a former aerobics instructor, kickboxer and runner. In 2012 alone, Lisa completed six half-marathons.

But her genetics ultimately caught up with her. Over the last few years, Lisa underwent a foot surgery, followed by two cervical spine surgeries. She says it made it difficult to stay physically active.

In early 2019, Lisa started a job at OneAmerica Financial Partners in Indianapolis. She was due for her annual physical and could access OurClinic @ The Tower as a part of her employer benefits, so she scheduled a biometric screening. The results were a stark wake-up call.

“They didn’t come back favorably,” she says.

Lisa’s A1c measured 8 percent and her triglycerides measured over 500 mg/dl. An A1c reading above 6.5 percent indicates diabetes, while a triglyceride reading of 500 mg/dl falls in the “very high” range, according to the Mayo clinic.

Lisa had no idea she was at risk of diabetes. There’s a family history, but she says the thought never crossed her mind.

“It scared the daylights out of me,” she says. “But I wanted to live. In the past few months, I’ve lost four friends because of heart attacks and strokes, so it fueled me to be healthier.”

Lisa joined a diabetes support group and her benefits manager at OneAmerica encouraged her to try health coaching. That’s where she first met Debbie Richardson, a health coach with OurHealth.

Lisa was determined to change her lifestyle and get healthy. She began meeting regularly with Debbie and together they charted a healthy path forward that focused on lifestyle changes, not medication. She also joined a gym and started exercising several times per week.

Lisa says changing her diet was the hardest part.

“I love to cook, so I’ve had to reinvent the wheel of having healthier options,” she says. “Debbie’s guidance was that 90 percent of what goes on my plate needs to be vegetables with a clean protein.”

Lisa committed to eating only 1,600 calories per day and stuck with it. To help hold her accountable, Debbie helped her sync an app on her phone with her Fitbit so she could monitor her daily calorie intake.

Within three months of starting health coaching, Lisa’s A1c and triglycerides both dropped to a healthy measure (without the use of medication) and as an added bonus, she lost 30 pounds.

Lisa credits her success to the accountability and guidance she received from Debbie, and the support of her employer and the OurHealth clinic staff.

“She’s embraced the entire journey for me,” Lisa says. “The whole clinic and my employer more than wrapped themselves around me. It’s nice having the accessibility to have it done right here at our office building.”

Today, Lisa says she feels great and is full of energy. In May, she logged 100 miles on the treadmill. And her positive attitude has influenced friends and family to also make healthy lifestyle changes. Lisa’s mother recently lost 15 pounds while her boyfriend dropped 30 pounds.

“I’m trying to be a kick-ass 50-year-old,” she says, adding that she’s already signed up for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in 2020.

“This isn’t just a quick fix for me,” she says. “I have to own this destiny. That’s been my biggest takeaway from Debbie. This isn’t going to be three months and ‘Oh, look at what I did.’ Because of genetics and my age, this will be my lifestyle moving forward.”

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.”

Lifestyle Changes Help Patient Take Control of Diabetes

Sue Booth says she started to notice some unusual health changes in the Spring of 2017. She felt tired all the time, she was constantly thirsty and was using the restroom frequently.

By June, Booth says her health became much worse. “It got so bad I was having difficulty seeing clearly and I began having blackouts,” Booth says.

One of those blackouts came unexpectedly while Booth was sitting in her chair at work. “Embarrassingly enough, it was the president of the company who found me from what looked like I was sleeping in my chair,” she says.

Booth says she knew something was wrong. She didn’t have a primary care physician at the time, but her OurHealth benefits had just started through her job at Wilhelm Construction in Indianapolis, so she made an appointment that afternoon at MyClinic @ Greenwood Springs.

“When I went in there, I was in very bad shape,” Booth says. Her symptoms – blurred vision, excessive thirst and frequent urination – are all common signs of diabetes. A blood test revealed Booth’s A1c level measured upwards of 13. The A1c test indicates a patient’s blood sugar over the previous 90 days. A reading above 6.5 indicates diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The clinic staff suggested that Booth go to the ER that afternoon, but Booth decided to go home. To her surprise, she says a nurse checked on her over the weekend.

“It really touched me that she called just to see if I was OK because she was so concerned about me,” Booth says.

Booth began meeting weekly with the clinic staff. Together, they developed a plan designed to meet Booth’s health goals: Get her diabetes under control; lower her blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

“From the very first time I walked in there, I knew that they genuinely cared,” Booth says. “It wasn’t a matter of ‘this person is sick, let’s give her something to feel better.’ It was, ‘oh my gosh, this person is really sick. I’m really concerned about her and we’ve got to make this better.’”

The clinic nurse had Booth keep a journal of her blood sugar levels and at the end of the week they would go through each entry to gauge her progress. “She’d say, ‘Oh this one is really good. What did you do between this one and this one that caused the drastic change,’” Booth says.

A health coach gave Booth information on improving her diet. She cut out fast food, began counting carbs and cooking recipes she found on a website for diabetics. To get more exercise, Booth took walks around her neighborhood and worked out at the YMCA.

Booth says her lifestyle changes paid off, and over time she started to feel better. Her vision improved, and she felt comfortable driving again. She credits her health turnaround to the support and encouragement from the clinic staff.

“They call me their rockstar,” Booth says. “I think, if I am their rockstar, it’s only because they are my back-up band. I never would have gotten through this as well as I did in the time period that I did without them. I know that for a fact.”

Booth says that over a period of 15 months, she reduced her A1c level to 5.2, which falls below the prediabetic range; she lost significant weight and her cholesterol is now in a normal range for the first time in 20 years.

“It’s been a combination of persistence, diet and exercise, and paying attention to what they told me,” Booth says. “They never once steered me wrong. They never once told me to do something without explaining their position on it. I never felt preached to. They always made me feel like it was just about me.”

Charlotte Worker Fights Back Against Diabetes

Even though he’s lived with diabetes since a diagnosis in 2001, Tyran Davis says his health began spiraling out of control in 2015.

Davis says he didn’t feel well, and didn’t sleep well – his high blood sugar made him wake up frequently during the night, leaving him feeling sluggish and drained come morning. He was skipping his insulin, drinking way too much soda and eating fast food four to five times per week.

“My diabetes was so out of control I was literally going back and forth to the emergency room,” Davis says.

The turning point came after his wife found him in the bathtub suffering from diabetic shock. He says it was then and there he decided to turn his life around and take control of his health.

Getting back on track

Davis says his A1C level was over 12 when he first met OurHealth regional medical director Dr. Teressa Watts at the MyClinic @ Northlake in Charlotte, North Carolina. The A1C test indicates a patient’s blood sugar over the previous 90 days. A reading above 6.5 indicates diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As a health plan benefit of his employment with the City of Charlotte, Davis could access MyClinic services at no charge, so he began a routine of weekly meetings with Dr. Watts, a health coach, and a Certified Diabetes Educator. Together, they worked with Davis and planned a healthy path forward. One thing was certain: He needed to change his diet.

“I was drinking Cokes sun up to sun down,” Davis says. “That was something I was truly addicted to.”

Besides consuming unhealthy amounts of soda and fast food, Davis says he was quite fond of honey buns, cake, and pork — a combination that clearly didn’t mesh well with his diabetes.

It was time to get serious, so Davis committed to taking his insulin daily and changing his diet. That meant switching to Diet Coke, and significantly lowering his sugar and fast food intake.

Even with those small changes, Davis says his health started to improve. After three months, he cut his clinic visits to twice per month. After six months, it was once every 90 days.

His A1C started to tick down, and each time the clinic staff would call to let him know. Davis says it kept him motivated knowing he had support.

“They would call me and say, ‘keep up the good work. Keep doing what you’re doing,'” Davis says. “I think that was a major stepping stone for me. They were proud of me and I was proud of myself.”

Davis says the support made him want to push harder. “It sparked a flame in me when she would call me and tell me what my lab results were.”

New outlook on life

Today, Davis says he feels like a new man. His A1C is down to 7, a 5-point drop from 2015. “I feel so much better now,” he says. “I’ve got my numbers in control.”

He says he continues to eat well, checks his blood sugar 3-4 times per day, and adjusts his insulin as needed. He now feels more energetic and spends more time going out with his wife and attending his grandkids’ sporting events. “I used to shut myself out from a lot of those things,” he says.

Davis says he’s grateful for the support he received from the clinic staff and Dr. Watts.

“The staff helped me get through this and I want to give back to them. It wasn’t all my doing to get where I’m at today. It was the push, it was the caring, it was the love they gave to me,” Davis says. “I just can’t thank them enough. They are just so caring and compassionate.”

About OurHealth

Indianapolis-based OurHealth is a provider of onsite and near-site primary care clinics and services focused on enhancing the patient experience and lowering healthcare costs for businesses of all sizes. OurHealth offers a comprehensive healthcare approach to its clients and their employees, which includes primary and urgent care services, wellness services, onsite laboratory and medication dispensing services and referral guidance. OurHealth has healthcare clinics in Indiana, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. To learn more about OurHealth, visit www.ourhealth.org.

OurHealth Patient Success: Tim’s Story

Tim Murray didn’t realize he was experiencing diabetic symptoms until he visited OurHealth for a biometric screening to earn an incentive through his employee benefits at Urschel Laboratories.

Murray had been experiencing constant fatigue and blurred vision but had no idea his symptoms signified a serious problem.

Tim’s screening revealed a dangerously high A1c measure of 13.8, which falls well into the high-risk category for diabetic complications. 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.

Unfortunately, Tim isn’t alone: He’s one of more than 30 million Americans currently living with diabetes, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’m glad I went to that screening because if I hadn’t, I probably would have just kept going like I was without knowing I had diabetes,” Murray says.

Following his diagnosis, Tim’s OurHealth physician developed a personalized treatment plan and coordinated diabetes management education. Tim started having regular appointments at the clinic and made his OurHealth physician his primary care provider.

A year and a half after the initial biometric screening, Tim’s A1c has dropped to 7 and his diabetic symptoms have decreased. He now enjoys taking walks during the workday and kayaking with his wife and two sons.

“I feel way different now,” Murray says. “It’s like night and day.”