How many times have you heard someone say you won't know unless you ask? Now for people in 6 rural communities they can ask a dietitian about their nutrition choices and making some positive lifestyle changes. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on Avera's eConsult program with the Avera Heart Hospital.
Chris Fees lives in Chamberlain but that isn't stopping her from getting face-to-face consultations with Registered Dietitian Nikki Ver Steeg at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls. This outpatient nutrition secure video eConsults are funded by a rural health grant through Avera Health and connects these dietitians with patients in 6 rural areas who are have heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary and wound care needs.
Registered Dietitian Mary Beth Russell says, "We have worked with some rural community's clinics and really built relationships. They are learning to trust that we are really helping their patients and are good proponents to try eConsults."
Chris had a stent placed in one of her clogged coronary arteries in the cath lab at the Avera Heart Hospital in July , she followed up with 6 weeks of cardiac rehab and during all of that she also found out she has type 2 diabetes. She knew she had a lot of changes to make, but says it was all a little overwhelming but Nikki helped put everything into perspective.
Nikki says, "We make baby steps to get a final goal instead of changing them into a completely different person overnight. I think it's important we've learned that with setting different goals we need to start slowly, see which ones they want to work on the most and of course we help encourage them to do it."
Chris says, "I'm very appreciative to have the extra support. It's really wonderful for me at a time when I really needed it."
Chris also thinks it's wonderful she gets this service absolutely free, she can stay in her hometown for all 4 consultations and she always meets with the same dietitian.
Chris says, "It's not always easy to give out that kind of information she's made it easy for me."
Nikki says, "She started at the fitness center which I love. It helps her lose weight, helps control her blood sugar. We focus on three meals, nice balanced meals not skipping any meals and trying to have a protein at breakfast, lunch and supper. She is doing a fantastic job. She sees the results, feels it and that alone encourages her to keep going."
Chris says, "Everyday is a challenge. Some days I win, some days I don't but I keep trying."
And Nikki will keep supporting her along the way!
For some folks in rural areas, they don't have access to a registered dietitian so this program is helping fill a need for patients. Avera also hopes to expand the program.
The six sites for eConsults are Chamberlain, Gregory, Marshall, Pierre, Parkston and Tyndall. Avera Health is hoping to expand to even more communities.