Community partnership focuses on health, not just health care

MEDFORD—A year ago, if you asked Jackson Care Connect member Kelly Camacho about her health, she would say that she was dying.

At age 38, Kelly had uncontrolled diabetes even though she took insulin four times a day, and severe asthma that required prednisone – a medication that can lead to weight gain. She also had dangerously high blood pressure and heart disease.

“I had no energy, could barely walk without getting out of breath and was really sick and depressed,” Kelly says. “I would wind up in the hospital two or three times each month.”

Now a year later, with support from Jackson Care Connect (JCC), her Oregon Health Plan Coordinated Care Organization and the Medford Rogue Valley Family YMCA, Kelly dropped 62 pounds, is completely off insulin and prednisone, her blood pressure is normal and she hasn’t been in the hospital since last September.

What happened?

She had the support of Linda Larson, a Jackson Care Connect community care worker at Rogue Community Health. Community care workers are helping to transform Oregon’s system of care for OHP members like Kelly.

Linda is part of a health care team that identifies patients who might need some hands-on support to stay well. She helped Kelly get a medical referral to a pilot wellness program sponsored by Jackson Care Connect and the Rogue Valley Family YMCA in Medford.

Kelly received a YMCA scholarship that’s available to JCC members for a new program called 12 Weeks to Healthier New You! The program is for those who need to lose 50 pounds or more and is held at the Y. It is free for Jackson Care Connect and other OHP members on referral from their providers. The program includes weekly meetings, six personal training sessions, nutrition and food shopping education, group exercise and peer support.

12 Weeks to a Healthier New You! is led by Tammy Miller, a Rogue Valley Family YMCA personal trainer who dedicates herself completely to her group. Tammy makes herself available to members 24 hours a day. “Tammy is one of my angels,” Kelly says. “She taught me how to set personal and activity goals for the week that weren’t overwhelming, how to read food labels, how to speak up in front of the group and feel supported.”

At the end of the first 12 Weeks to a Healthier New You! Kelly was able to get off prednisone.

 “That’s when everything turned around,” she says. “ Since then I’ve lost over 60 pounds and now I’m in the peer support group so I can continue to reach my goal.”

Kelly is so happy with her progress that she enrolled her son in the Junior Wellness Program, also sponsored by Jackson Care Connect and the Rogue Valley YMCA. It is available at no charge to JCC members age 9 to 14 with a provider referral, and offers peer support, group exercise, education and motivation for children who want to lose weight.

Kelly now works out at the Y four times week and often brings her son and daughter. She takes Zumba classes and does exercises with Tammy that she wouldn’t be able to do on her own.

Kelly smiles when she thinks back.

“A year ago, I thought I was dying,” she says. “Today, I think about living and staying healthy.” 

For more information about this story, contact Cheryl French.
For media inquiries about Jackson Care Connect, contact Jeanie Lunsford, 503-416-3626 or [email protected].

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