In the wake of the tragic loss of her teenage son last May, Jean Haltom was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. Still reeling from the car accident that claimed the life of her child, Haltom says she was overwhelmed with the diagnosis.
“When you first find out you’re diabetic, it’s a life-changer,” she says. “It’s not just a diet. It is the rest of your life.”
To help her manage the life-changing diagnosis, Jean was referred to Story Medical’s Health Coach Meagan Ausborn-Henderson.
“Meagan has been wonderful,” Haltom says. “If I didn’t have her, I don’t know what I would do.”
Diabetes is not new to Haltom. She looked on as a family member was diagnosed with Type II diabetes years ago and saw that managing the condition was a struggle. When Haltom was diagnosed, she was worried about how she would handle it.
Haltom says. “I don’t want to follow that same path.”
To ensure patients like Haltom have the support and motivation to get the most out of life, Story Medical Clinic offers Health Coaching. The service is provided at no charge to patients – typically those dealing with conditions like diabetes or severe food allergies – who are referred by Story Medical Clinic providers.
In addition to providing motivation and support, Ausborn-Henderson keeps a registry of patients to help identify trends. The data collection will help to establish best practices in caring for patients in the future.
“This is an innovative position,” says Ausborn-Henderson, who is a registered nurse with special training and certification in health coaching. “My focus is on caring for each patient holistically. That means helping them to set goals and take steps toward managing their condition and any life factors that are impacting that condition.”
In the case of Haltom, losing her son contributed mightily to life’s stresses and made the challenge of living with diabetes seem insurmountable at times. Haltom says it was the supportive care provided by Ausborn-Henderson that helped her through some very difficult times.
“Meagan is so much more than a health coach,” Haltom says. “She is a mentor, a friend, and a counselor in so many areas of my life.”
In many respects, Haltom says, Ausborn-Henderson has helped her to see beyond diabetes.
“We review our goals each time we visit,” Haltom says. Ausborn-Henderson typically meets with patients weekly either in person, by phone, or occasionally by email. “My goal now is to be more active and that’s not my favorite thing.
“Meagan knows that though,” Haltom continues. “And she is helping me find ways to remain motivated and to add activity to my daily life.”
Ausborn-Henderson says that goal-setting is vital when it comes to managing a disease like diabetes.
“I look at short-term goals as action plans,” Ausborn-Henderson says. “Part of my job is to help my patients become experts in the management of their condition, and we can achieve this by facilitating short-term goal-setting done completely by the patient.
“I gently guide my patients to focus on behaviors instead of outcomes because behaviors form the steps that lead to a desired outcome,” Ausborn-Henderson continues. “Goal-setting also provides a sense of empowerment for our patients and family members. By setting a goal, they have a clear roadmap on what needs to be done to facilitate a healthier lifestyle. Once that goal is set, they can lean on me to explore with them how they can best make a change in their health behavior.”
In order for the relationship between patient and health coach to work, trust is necessary.
“I am genuinely interested in getting to know the patients I work with,” Ausborn-Henderson says. “I feel building a rapport with each patient is essential. Coaching facilitates behavior change through a structured and supportive partnership between the patient and me. The goal is for that connection to provide a spark that will motivate the patient to look inward and recognize that they do have the resources and an innate ability to make lasting lifestyle changes.”
That spark is alive and well in Haltom. She is motivated by her visits with Ausborn-Henderson and feels like she has a partner to help her move forward.
“I have a lot of personal reasons that I need and want to get healthy,” Haltom says. “I want to be alive. I want to get the most out of life.
“But, honestly, without Meagan’s help, I don’t know where I would be.”
To learn more about Story Medical Clinic’s Health Coaching services, please visit with your provider or call Story Medical Clinic – Nevada at (515) 382-5413 or visit www.storymedical.org/Clinics/healthcoach.aspx