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February 4, 2011 > Making a difference

Making a difference

Submitted By Cristina Torres

Economic and health impacts associated with obesity and physical inactivity leading to chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension are pronounced in the face of soaring unemployment and economic downturn. Tri-City Health Center (TCHC) has recognized our community's critical need for ongoing primary care-based behavioral health services, promoting chronic disease management along with a personalized nutrition and exercise training program.

Leveraging grant awards by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program in southern Alameda County, TCHC delivered multifaceted programs called "Making A Difference Everyday" (MADE) and "Team Up for Health." The program goals were controlling health costs, improving overall quality of care, and increasing health outcomes. They were designed to provide patients the opportunities to meet with registered dieticians, personal trainers, and behavioral health providers to improve their overall health and to fight obesity.

The MADE program provided health consultations, and education to over 200 underserved and uninsured individuals in the Tri-City communities. MADE taught patients to better manage their disease in their everyday lives, while providing them with vital medical care. Patients gained knowledge to cope with their disease and improve future health outcomes. "I have been trying lots of things to improve my diabetes and the MADE program has helped me physically, mentally and emotionally. TCHC providers and health coordinators have been there for me. It really motivates me to see that everybody is interested in my health just as I am. The program has educated me on things I didn't know that I can actually accomplish now," said Diana, a TCHC patient beneficiary of the MADE program.

Team Up for Health provided patients access to services that improved nutrition, healthful food knowledge and exercise through consultations with nutritionists and behavioral health specialists. The program's nutrition classes taught participants healthier food choices and appropriate portion sizes. Behavioral health sessions focused on the relationship between emotional and physical health while educating patients on managing their stress and communicating feelings. Patients met with a personal trainer to learn how to exercise using the environment around them, as well as the importance of exercise on their overall health.

The program culminated with a successful "Fun Walk" at Lake Elizabeth, with about 60 participants attending. Anita, a program participant said "I think it's a great program. It gave me a lot of information. The nutrition class gave me more information than any other classes that I have been to." Ana, another program participant added that "the program created awareness and informed us on effective ways to exercise, eat and cope with daily situations."

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