Gratitude & Impact Newsletter
Better Choices, Better Health
Like many people, when Betsy and Dave Schoeller retired from their respective careers – Betsy as the Director of Human Resources at Mary Greeley and Dave as a chemist in the College of Engineering at Iowa State University – they looked for opportunities to stay active and give back by volunteering their time.
Mary Greeley has many volunteer opportunities and Older Adult and Volunteer Services Manager Vickie Newell sent an email seeking volunteers to enroll in the Better Choices Better Health program to learn how to facilitate the workshop that meets once a week for six weeks.
Better Choices Better Health is an evidence-based program proven to help participants with chronic health conditions feel empowered to improve the quality of their lives. This volunteer led workshop helps people with ongoing health challenges learn to be active self-managers by developing weekly action plans to achieve realistic goals. Action plans evolve as progress toward goals is achieved. As a result, participants develop new patterns of behavior to deal with pain and fatigue, make healthy food choices, manage depression and difficult emotions, improve sleep and fitness level and manage stress.
Independent of each other, both Betsy and Dave were interested and responded to Vickie’s email. “I’m not an in front of people, talker type, but I have a lot of chronic illness, so I have a perspective on it maybe other facilitators don’t have,” explained Dave. Betsy added, “In addition to helping the person with chronic conditions, it’s also a program for people who are close to or live with someone who has chronic conditions. So, I think in the end we both felt like we had something we could offer.”
Betsy and Dave completed the training and began facilitating a cohort right away. “In our current class, we have a couple where one person has more of the problems and the spouse is more of a support [person]. And then we have another person who doesn’t have any ongoing conditions but she’s taking the class because she is supporting somebody with conditions who’s not in the class,” Dave shared. “It’s an interesting perspective to come from both angles and be really relatable, because we [Betsy and I] are living it.”
Betsy continued, “I hope participants find tools that work for them for long term success in managing their chronic conditions or finding ways to better communicate their needs to family members and their healthcare team.” The workshop introduces participants to a toolbox which, in addition to healthy eating and action planning, includes things like problem-solving, decision-making and understanding emotions. “One of the techniques for understanding and dealing with difficult emotions is a gratitude journal,” said Betsy. “You think of the things that you’re grateful for and focus on that. One day driving home from class Dave shared with me that while he is in class he isn’t in pain, because he’s focusing on helping others, he’s not focusing on his problems. To me that’s a big win, he’s getting out and connecting.”
“The participants are connecting too,” interjected Dave. “That’s part of the education, it’s not just them in this situation. They see others and think, you’re doing okay so maybe I can do a little better too. We facilitate in such a way that they’re learning from each other. A lot of these illnesses tend to isolate you, because you’re not mobile enough to get out and socialize. So you don’t meet other people as often as you used to. Coming to this class you realize there are other people that are doing the same thing and maybe you can help each other a little bit.”
Gifts to the Mary Greeley Foundation help fund this and other programs through Mary Greeley’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center. Betsy reflected on this. “There are people who wouldn’t have the resources to pay for a program like this and it needs to be something that’s available to everyone regardless of their circumstances.” Dave added, “Charging a fee for this would be another barrier and they are already dealing with barriers just by managing these chronic conditions.”
The Schoellers concluded by saying, “We want people to know this class is available and that any adult could benefit from taking it, particularly if they have a chronic condition or live with someone who does. The earlier you start, the sooner it’s going to help.”
For more information on the Better Choices Better Health workshop contact Mary Greeley’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center.
Inspiration Leads to New Standard of Care
While on maternity leave, Liz Burkland took several online classes gaining wisdom and support from other moms. When the Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator returned to her work in the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center (DNEC) at Mary Greeley she drew inspiration from those classes.
Liz sees patients with gestational diabetes, helping pregnant women manage this diagnosis for the well-being of their baby and their own health. She also leads Prevent T2 classes, helping pre-diabetes participants or those at-risk for the condition change lifestyle habits and live a health life. The year-long program focuses on total healthy lifestyle habits including exercise, meditation, handling stress and mindful eating.
We’ve been running the Prevent T2 program for three years and it is really great but, it’s written for all ages and lifestyles,” shared Liz. “Some sessions are really focused on retired people and others are more for men. It’s also a big time commitment. Because of these challenges, we hadn’t had any gestational diabetes patients participate in a Prevent T2 cohort. So our team has been trying to figure out how to modify the program because the content – stress management, sleeping, healthy eating, activity and coping with triggers that throw you off – is really great for moms.”
The format of the online classes she took during maternity leave, along with the private Facebook community really motivated her. Liz explained, “I’d taken online courses and gone through the process. I thought I could make Prevent T2 an online course modified for moms with gestational diabetes. So basically, that’s what I’m doing.”
So far Liz has created 29 videos, ranging between 8 and 20 minutes that will be pushed out to The Mom Post each week. Moms in this private Facebook community can watch the videos on their own time and then set their own goals specific to each topic. Members will be able to post updates, share ideas and ask questions. Liz is also planning a few in-person sessions such as a meal prep activity or yoga session.
The Mom Post will launch in January. Women who experienced gestational diabetes are eligible to participate free of charge. This program, and investment of resources needed to create it, is possible because of donations to the Mary Greeley Foundation. “It is really cool that the community is so involved in what happens here,” Liz said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without their support. I think it’s amazing!”
Liz has been invited to share this innovative program at the American Association of Diabetes Educators national conference later this fall. For more information about The Mom Post, email Liz or visit the website.
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes – Are You At Risk?
When Wilma Lesan’s doctor told her she was pre-diabetic and suggested she take the Prevent Type 2 class through the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center (DNEC) at Mary Greeley, she jumped at the chance. Wilma’s mother, three sisters and daughter have diabetes. With her family history, she wanted to do whatever she could to avoid the chronic illness. “Because of my age and family history, I did not want to spend my remaining years testing and taking shots for diabetes,” Wilma shared.
Prevent T2 began as a pilot program thanks to donors to the Mary Greeley Foundation and a state of Iowa grant. The seed money for the program allowed Mary Greeley’s DNEC team to add a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator to help lead the program and track the long term progress of its participants. Members of the initial program offerings showed such success the class is offered with new cohorts starting throughout the year.
“The instructors teach us about being active, eating well, managing stress, and taking charge of our lifestyle and health,” Wilma explained. “We have received so many tools to help us including a Lifestyle Balance Notebook, a weight log, a blood glucose meter, fat and calorie booklets, and many sources where we can go to for information. We have so much valuable information to refer to after the class is over.”
Wilma was so motivated by the 150 minutes of activity per week goal, the first month of class she purchased a new recumbent cross trainer. The fourth month she adopted two Bichon Frise Maltese dogs, Chrissy and Pearl. “Before this class the only exercise I did was turning the pages of a good book,” laughed Wilma. “Now between the dogs and my cross trainer, I’m definitely moving my whole body. I have lost weight and am walking without a cane. I can tell a difference and so can others.”
Prevent T2 is a year-long program with weekly meetings for the first four months, bi-weekly meeting for the next two months and then monthly meetings for the last six months.
“I cannot say enough good things about it. It really helps,” shared Wilma. “I’m very appreciative of the instructors, other participants and the community support and would encourage anyone to take advantage of this class.”
Read more about the Prevent T2 class and take a test to find out if you’re at risk.
Two Legacies Live On
Most of us can resonate with Robert Baden-Powell’s quote:
“…Try and leave this world a little better than you found it…”
Dr. George Hegstrom and his wife Maridee “Dee” did just that. As a pioneer in diabetes education in the greater Ames area, Dr. Hegstrom was a well-respected physician at McFarland Clinic. He was passionate about his diabetes patients and wanted them to continue to learn as much as possible about their disease so they could make healthy choices and live their very best life.
After he passed away, Dee wanted to carry on his work and legacy. She established an endowment at the Mary Greeley Foundation to support the annual George Hegstrom Symposium devoted to the field of diabetes. As a result, hundreds of physicians, nurses, patients and other community members have learned more about diabetes care and prevention every year since 2007. Earnings from the endowment allow the education to continue. The 2020 George Hegstrom Symposium is open to the public and scheduled for March 5, from 5 – 8 p.m. at Mary Greeley.
Dee left her own imprint on our community as a professional volunteer and longtime member of the Mary Greeley Art Committee. She assisted with growing a permanent art collection and rotating exhibits at the medical center. When she passed away, her daughter, Morley Hegstrom and son, Trey Hegstrom, established the Maridee Hegstrom Art Fund with an annual gift. This fund provides art for Mary Greeley Medical Center and promotes art as therapy, pleasure and inspiration.
Through her estate plan, Morley established a variable annuity naming the Mary Greeley Foundation as the beneficiary. It is Morley’s wish that her deferred gift will one day honor both her parents and be split equally between the George Hegstrom Symposium and the Maridee Hegstrom Art Fund. In the meantime, Morley continues to make annual contributions to both funds to allow for immediate impact.
“It is important to me that my parent’s legacies live on in the community they both passionately served for so many years. I am thankful to Mary Greeley and the Foundation for helping make it possible,” Morley said. “I know they would be pleased.”
Join our Mailing List
Interested in joining the Foundation's e-newsletter mailing list? We send out updates monthly and we promise to never share your information.
Sign up for the e-newsletter