Pioneer Memorial

Pioneer Memorial Hospital Health Nurse Stephani Reinhardt, RN Discusses Benefits of Having a Health Coach

05/15/2017

It is no secret that our health care system is very complex, dynamic, and often confusing. Many people are left feeling overwhelmed after being hospitalized or even after being seen in the clinic. As we have more technology at our fingertips, the ability to better care for our population should seem simpler, more efficient.  Our communities should be thriving! Unfortunately statistics prove otherwise. According the National Institute of Health, 2 out of 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese, 9.3 % of the US population has been diagnosed with diabetes, and 14% have chronic kidney disease. Ours is a disease care system instead of a health care system.  There seems to be too much to do and too little time to do it.

After searching many websites to find a definition to describe what a health coach is, I was unable to find a clear definition for a health coach; a position that certainly encompasses many roles, skills, and responsibilities that can impact one’s immediate health decisions and future goals. A general definition found on several coach websites included: “The objective of a Health Coach is of assisting you to achieve your personal wellness goals. Health Coaching utilizes effective behavioral psychology principles to assist people to make lifestyle changes. Health Coaching is a new paradigm for assisting people to become masters of their Wellness”. Momentary pause while I get out my superhero cape! In reality a health coach is someone that helps people take care of themselves, to effectively manage their health by identifying healthy lifestyle changes and then patients making the changes.

As practitioners, we know that changing unhealthy behaviors to promote wellness (and prevent damaging complications from chronic diseases) is complex and requires knowledge and special skills.  As lay people, we know stays in the hospital are shorter and shorter, often being discharged while still in recovery mode leaving additional confusion about how to care for themselves much less how to manage their chronic health problems. This makes a rather large abyss that has to be filled. The Health coach appears to be a perfect fit for both needs.

As a health coach, my job is to provide guidance and support, as well as assist patients to find motivation and strategies that lead to healthier behaviors. Research has shown that these directions in both intervention and preventive care strategies, has proven to be most beneficial following hospitalization and in avoiding being re-hospitalized. Our hope is to make health care as efficient as possible and for patients to be empowered to be the best version of themselves… after all it is all up to you!

A few suggestions that can help you improve your health without a visit to the health coach? Move your body! Incorporate activity into your daily schedule, even something as simple as walking. Cut out processed foods.  Drink water instead of sugary beverages or diet beverages. Know your numbers, if diabetic understanding what you’re A1C is, checking your blood sugars at least a few times a week at various times gives your health provider an idea about how your medications are working. Take care of your body, it’s the only one you have! There are a lot of things in this life we can’t control, what we put into our bodies it is one of the few that we can.

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