For nearly 10 years, Ada Bell of Waverly has admittedly had a difficult time managing her Type II diabetes. In November 2011, she went to see her physician at Adena Family Medicine – Waverly for a check of her condition. Her physician, Dr. Takaji Kittaka, Jr. recognized Ada’s symptoms were not improving, even with prescribed medication. He recommended she participate in a pilot program that pairs the patient with a nurse navigator to help educate and guide her to a successful outcome.
“When we first started doing this, I felt a little intimidated,” says Ada. “I thought I must be the worst patient the doctor has if he’s asking me to do this.”
Like many women, Ada has always been focused on taking care of everyone but herself. “I could not get my medication together at all,” she said. “I’d forget to take it or skip it - and maybe forget for a couple of days.” That all changed when Ada met her nurse navigator, Lori O’Hearn, RN, BSN.
The women had an immediate connection. Lori took the time to find out not only about Ada’s disease management, but her lifestyle and how that may have contributed to her not sticking to a medication and testing schedule.
“Before Lori, I could not get my medication together,” adds Ada. “She’s helped me set goals and doesn’t push me to doing anything I’m not comfortable doing. She has encouraged me a lot.”
Ada is one of 24 patients Lori is guiding through the program, which Adena Health System began as a pilot last fall. Nurse navigators make regular contact with the patient, learning about their lifestyle and offering support, guidance and education to successfully manage the disease.
“It’s so gratifying to hear a patient say they trust me, and trust that I’ll listen to them and help them find a solution,” says Lori. She says all of her diabetic patients are experiencing improved labs since becoming involved in the program. Ada’s blood sugar levels have dropped over her past three visits.
Like all of Lori’s diabetic patients, Ada has come a long way. In addition to better managing her disease, she has also begun to put herself first. Motivated by Lori, Ada recently asserted herself when asking her employer for specific days off in order to have designated time to exercise. She is now a regular at her local pool, taking water aerobics classes two nights a week.