Have you ever imagined Mercy Health Center as a big toolbox? Within the walls of Mercy, each staff member, doctor, and volunteer brings an array of skill sets. Equally valuable to the work done by these people is our health education program. Health education is one of the essential tools Mercy uses to restore community health. The effort to educate remains active as we build knowledge, teach health, and motivate patients to manage their personal well-being.
As a tool, health education has many different capabilities. A volunteer doctor initially refers patients to the program, requiring the patient to attend a series of classes on smoking cessation, diabetes, or hypertension. Registered dietician from the University of Georgia, Connie Crawley, has led these classes for over eight years, and educators from Athens Regional Medical Center have been partners for over five years. We are very grateful for the constant support and education to our patients these partners have provided. Beyond any number in a statistical report, a patient’s own testimony conveys success. Here, Donna, a diabetic patient, shares her story.
“The classes are very informative. The diabetes class taught me all about different foods and how they affect your body. There are foods that you don’t even realize affect your sugars. The class taught me about all the different carbs and what foods I should avoid. The class also helped me realize how important exercise is. I can see my A1c results improve from exercising. I would definitely recommend this class to anyone struggling with diabetes.”
In addition to classes, Mercy Health Center is beginning to construct a new avenue of educating patients using a teaching kitchen, funded by the Mulherin Foundation. The teaching kitchen will help address an important need in our community: counteracting obesity. The plan is to use the kitchen to build patients’ ability to prepare quick, affordable, and healthy cooking options.
Health education represents just one of the many tools in our Mercy toolbox. Ultimately, we hope to see a growth in patient knowledge that leads to a change in lifestyle and better health outcomes. Mercy is excited to help patients learn how to build a healthy future themselves, their families, and our community.