Umpqua Health Alliance Challenges Members to Live Healthier Lives
Affecting real change in health status and spending resources requires more than access to affordable care or a making certain everyone has a primary care physician. The Umpqua Health Alliance, the coordinated care organization in Douglas County, recognizes that for real transformation to occur people need to change their lifestyles. That’s where the “Healthy Living Challenge” comes in.
The Healthy Living Challenge is a 12-week outcome-based health and wellness program that encourages Oregon Health Plan members to adopt a well-balanced healthy lifestyle, and it’s available to those over age 13 who would benefit from losing weight.
The Alliance has approximately 26,500 members, and according to the 2014 County Health Rankings, 33 percent of Douglas County residents are obese compared to 26 percent statewide. Healthy lifestyles were identified as one of five high-level strategies in its 2014 Community Health Improvement Plan,” said Patti LaFreniere, CCO Coordinator.
This pilot program, which started March 2, is sponsored by the Alliance and delivered by the Douglas County YMCA. Funded by $10,000 in transformation dollars, to cover the cost of the YMCA program, the pilot involves three main components; a comprehensive health assessment, weekly group fitness classes, and six semi-monthly nutrition and motivational workshops.
Kathy Chiricuvio, who had a hip replacement a few years ago and gained 25 pounds as a result of limited mobility, has found the program helpful. She’s already lost 5 pounds and the nagging limp seems to have gone away.
“The (fitness) classes are remarkable,” Chiricuvio said. “I’ve received wonderful support from everyone at the YMCA and the (nutrition) workshops are very beneficial; it’s remarkable what I’ve learned. This program is helping people focus on living longer and better lives. It’s giving me my life back.”
Initially, 34 people participated in the Healthy Living Challenge and, because of its success, a second program is underway, available to 80 participants.
“We worked very hard to publicize the program and are excited by the number of people who signed up for this terrific opportunity,” LaFreniere noted. “The primary care physicians in our community have been extremely supportive. The challenge requires a PCP referral so they were vital to the success of the number of participants we have registered.”
So far, only preliminary results are available from the first challenge that ended in mid-February. Participants lost an average of eight pounds, reduced their Body Mass Index by an average of two points, reduced body fat percentage by an average of 1.75 percent and experienced lifestyle improvements such as increased energy and increased sleep as well.
“We feel confident these positive results will lead to cost savings related to overall health improvement,” LaFreniere said.
At the onset, participants received a fitness assessment including a YMCA standard fitness test, body mass index and body fat percentages and body dimensions. They also completed a lifestyle assessment.
YMCA fitness classes are offered, along with nutritional and motivational workshops on the fundamentals of healthy eating, how to shop healthy, nutrition for chronic diseases, incorporating fitness into your lifestyle, and setting attainable goals and staying consistent.
Joanne can be reached at [email protected]