For people with chronic (or on-going) issues with their health, FirstHealth of the Carolinas now offers a program to help you control symptoms and improve health. Specially trained health educators are leading a series of free classes that research has proven helps people learn how to better take that control. It’s targeted to people who have any number of health conditions. These include diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), fibromyalgia, depression and others.
The six-week session, called “Healthy Living: Chronic Disease Self-Management Program,” is free and begins Friday, August 10, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. Meetings will be held at the Community Health Conference Room on the main floor of Moore Regional Hospital-Richmond, 925 Long Drive, Rockingham. The series runs until Friday, October 12.
“To make the classes convenient for as many people as possible, instructors will also hold the weekly classes in other locations in the coming months, including Moore, Montgomery and Hoke counties,” says Cindy Laton, health programs manager for FirstHealth of the Carolinas’ Community Health Services program.
“This is a highly organized and respected program developed by Stanford University [California] patient education experts, and it’s one of the top health programs in the nation,” she says. “Because of its reputation, we highly recommend it to help people make long-term changes. We also encourage caretakers to come, too, since they can be an important part of the support network when people make changes.”
Research of more than 800 people with chronic health conditions shows that the program works, she says. Over a two-year period, according to one study, people who took this series of classes reduced emergency room and outpatient visits and reported feeling more empowered to take control of their health.
The interactive classes focus on specific education and behavior changes, which over time can improve health. Some topics include: reducing symptoms, including pain; setting goals; overcoming frustration; how to evaluate treatments; improving sleep and fatigue; exercise and healthy eating; and overall steps to live a healthier lifestyle.
To prepare for the upcoming classes all across the region, FirstHealth has invested in training and certification of five instructors: Laton, Samantha Allen, Amy Hamilton-Forester, Kristen Cook and Isa Granados. In addition, members of two of FirstHealth’s community partners also earned certification: Janice Roberts, with the Moore and Richmond Cooperative Extension, and Kimberly Burger, with the Montgomery County Health Department. Tierra Chavis, a student intern from UNC-Pembroke is also now certified to teach it.
“Making heathy changes takes a commitment, and our instructors are ready and able to help people succeed,” says Laton.
To register for the free classes, call Amy Hamilton-Forester, outreach manager at FirstHealth Community Health, at (910) 417-3735.