"Working as one" makes a difference for patient
WellSpan Health | 04.12.13
WellSpan Rehabilitation athletic trainer Joe Koncewicz discusses a workout routine with Chaz White. “My success wouldn’t be possible without everyone at WellSpan caring about me,” said White.
Chaz White had more or less given up. In his early 20s, his weight exceeded 500 pounds and his daily activities were extremely limited. He figured he would be relegated to an unfulfilling life and probably die at an early age.
But, he decided one day that he wanted to change that bleak future. He made an appointment to see Dr. Chris Echterling at the York Hospital Community Health Center. He had been treated by Echterling in the past, but had not seen him for several years.
“I didn’t want to accept my life as it was, and I didn’t want to die early,” said White, who realized he had a long way to go to reach his goals.
“I wanted to get to a weight where I could get around easier and do more things. I wanted to eat healthier and feel better about myself.”
In addition to being morbidly obese, White had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes with nephropathy and severe swelling in his legs.
Echterling realized that 20-minute office visits and White’s family resources weren’t going to be enough to make a difference. It would take “working as one” to truly make a difference in White’s life.
In April 2010, he took the unusual step of sending an email to various staff members throughout WellSpan asking for ideas to help save a life. White had mentioned that he felt that if he had a “life coach” or mentor, it would help him be successful.
“Staff members who care for trauma patients or patients in the emergency department or intensive care often get the feeling that they saved a life,” said Echterling. “You don’t often get that feeling treating outpatients. But, I thought this was an example of how working as one we could help save a life.”
For Chaz, not having a sweat suit was a barrier to exercising.
Many people willing to help
Echterling received a strong response to his email. Behavioral health counselors from Edgar Street, nursing students at York College, a nutritionist, VNA physical therapists and athletic trainers and an occupational therapist from WellSpan Rehabilitation all offered their assistance. Everyone involved in White’s care provided feedback and communicated on a regular basis, providing a good overall picture of what was happening.
One of the first steps was to purchase a sweat suit for White that he could wear to exercise. Not having a sweat suit was a barrier because White didn’t feel comfortable exercising in his regular clothes and he couldn’t afford a sweat suit.
A WellSpan Rehabilitation athletic trainer was assigned to work with White. The plan was for him to go to the Bannister Street location three or four times a week to work out. In the past three years, White has lost 135 pounds, lowered his blood pressure and eliminated his symptoms of diabetes.
Besides the physical changes, White has a much more positive attitude.
“So many people at WellSpan have been helpful and supportive to me,” said White. “They give me motivation, and they remind me when I’m slacking off.
“I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m encouraged by my progress. If you care about your life, you have to be willing to put the work in.”
White added that he has more energy; he is much more comfortable interacting with people and his confidence has increased. One of White’s new goals is to help inspire others to improve their health.
“I owe a lot of credit to Dr. Echterling because he motivated me, and he never gave up on me. I gave up countless times. My success wouldn’t be possible without everyone at WellSpan caring about me.”
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