Eight years ago, Toney Marguy — a two-pack-a-day smoker — got so much help from the hospital's smoking cessation program that he was able to quit the habit after 39 years.
When livingwellCARES debuted last year to help employees and their adult dependent children manage their diabetes, the nurse who helped him stop smoking called Marguy, a diabetic, and encouraged him to look into the new program.
After one year in the free program, Marguy, a blood/gas technician in Laboratory Medicine, reports that his blood sugar and cholesterol are under control and he is better at managing the inevitable stress in his life.
To achieve these results, Marguy meets regularly with Stacey Lane, RN, care coordinator, livingwellCARES, and reviews the plan of care his doctor created for him. That plan might include Marguy getting an annual eye exam and monthly blood tests; Lane follows up to ensure that he's following through.
To improve Marguy's overall wellness, they also discuss lifestyle issues that range from exercise and weight loss to stress management.
"We introduced this program to help employees who have this chronic disease better manage it and have better health," says Amanda Skinner, director, clinical integration, Northeast Medical Group, and program director for the livingwellCARES program. "Nearly 150 employees and their dependents on both campuses have enrolled and in the first year, the program is already achieving many of its goals."
While YNHH knows how many of its employees may have a disease or a condition, Skinner stresses that the livingwellCARES program is confidential and maintains the privacy of its patients. ActiveHealth Management, an outside company, does all of Yale New Haven Health System's disease management. It is ActiveHealth — not YNHH — that contacts employees and/or their adult dependents about the program. In her meetings with employees, Lane — the program's care coordinator for YNHH (enrollees at Bridgeport and Greenwich hospitals share a nurse care coordinator) — sees the positive impact that care coordination has on employees' health.
"Our employees see doctors who have prescribed medicines and created a plan of care for them," said Lane. "But diabetes — like many illnesses — can be complicated to control, changes over time and takes discipline to manage.
"It's hard for employees to go back to their doctors with every little change in their illness, routine or life's stresses," says Lane. "When they enroll in livingwellCARES, they set up face-to-face appointments with me and together, we work on a plan and set personal goals. My patients do all the work — I just provide the support and encouragement they need to succeed."
According to Lane, enrollees are also enjoying savings because they do not pay for generic diabetes or heart disease medications. Consultations with a hospital nutritionist are also free. To be eligible for livingwellCARES, employees or their adult dependents must be insured by YNHH.
"Now that I am part of this program, I am more hopeful about my future," says Marguy, a 40-year veteran of YNHH, who also served in the Navy in Vietnam. "Stacey reviews my numbers regularly and I feel that I'm not alone in fighting diabetes. She even taught me how to use my cell phone to remind me to take my medications, so now I never miss a dose."
Skinner notes that YNHHS is exploring ways to enlarge the scope of livingwell- CARES so employees with other chronic illnesses can benefit from the same support and coordination.
"We've got great evidence that this program helps employees manage their disease, control stress and improve their wellness overall," said Skinner. "Enrollees have seen a significant improvement in their diabetes testing and cholesterol levels."
According to Toney Marguy, signing up for livingwellCARES is one of the best things he's every done for himself and recommends it to any employee struggling with diabetes. "LivingwellCARES is a door opener," says Marguy. "I'm going to live longer because of it."