At Little Company of Mary, we care about the health of the community. And perhaps no where is that more evident than in our Health Education department. We offer a wide variety of programs and screenings to educate the community, identify risk factors for health problems, and in some cases, even save lives. Read on to learn more about our Health Education department and how we are changing lives every day.
Programs and services
“The programs and services we offer through our Health Education Centers empower you to take an active role in your own health and well being. We focus on three specific areas: Increasing awareness of health issues, screening for personal risk factors and providing behavior change programs that enhance your overall well-being by decreasing your personal risk factors,” said Eileen McNichols, RN, MSN, Manager of Health Promotion Services.
Health awareness programs range from educational classes about cardiovascular well-being to mental health and maintaining a positive attitude, to information about preventing diabetes, cancer, and other health problems. Screenings include an entire range of tests, including a Healthy Heart Screening, a comprehensive stroke screening called “Wake Up Call”, and other screenings for thyroid, Vitamin D, skin cancer, foot screenings and a special screening for women with bladder control and other personal issues. Lifestyle enhancement programs are designed to enrich your well being. These programs include massage therapy, weight loss and exercise programs, and even programs to manage the negative emotions of life, including stress and anger.
“We also offer Personal Health Coaching,” said McNichols. “When you meet with a personal health coach, you have the chance to meet one on one about concerns that are really important to you, set realistic goals and create a plan together with the coach that is consistent with your lifestyle.Your personal health coach provides accountability for meeting your goals. This empowers you to take your health into your own hands.”
People of all ages are invited and welcome to participate in all of the programs. The most popular programs include the exercise programs and massage therapy, which are available at both the hospital and at the Health Education Center in the Chicago Ridge Mall. Also, the Healthy Heart Screening and the Wake Up Call are popular for those in their 30s and up.
Health program advantages
“The biggest advantage to coming to our department is the one-on-one time with a wellness nurse educator. After you have your screening, you get the chance to talk to t one of our nurses about the results. It gives you the chance to understand what is happening to you, and then you can work with a physician to maximize your health and well-being. These screenings tell you where you are at now. The Wellness Nurse Educator helps you identify where you want to be and how to get there,” said McNichols.
“Another big advantage is that, should the results require follow up, care can be accessed immediately in the hospital,” said McNichols. “These wonderful screenings are provided at such a minimum cost that people can learn what they need to know affordably, understand what the screening results mean, and provide the tools you need to make meaningful changes that have a tremendous impact on your health.”
But perhaps the biggest advantage to the Health Education programs and screenings—many have saved people’s lives. “Sometimes a client crosses our path with a very serious problem of which they are totally unaware. Our specially trained Wellness Nurse Educators have identified life threatening health concerns during these screenings, and helped people access the care they need right away to prevent a health crisis before it occurs,” said McNichols.
The Wake Up Call has identified individuals with abdominal aortic aneurysms, and serious blockages in blood flow to the brain that could have led to a life threatening hemorrhage or a massive stroke. The skin cancer screening has identified cancerous melanomas. One participant in the Health Heart Screening had a previously unknown rare blood disorder. The Health Education Center team helped him to access care immediately. Without the screening, this young man could have had a serious health incident that was not survivable. A senior who had a Wake Up Call discovered a 90% blockage in the carotid artery. He was immediately referred to a vascular surgeon.Within a month of the screening, he had surgery to restore the circulation through the artery and was ready to go to Florida for the winter. “This was a ticking time bomb, and he could have had a massive stroke. We absolutely saved a life there,” said McNichols. “With these screenings, either you’ll realize everything is fine and you will have invaluable peace of mind, or you will find a problem and learn what you can do to take care of yourself and improve your health.”
For those who feel they don’t have time for a screening, McNichols offers wise perspective: “A wake up call screening takes one hour—one hour on a Saturday morning to have potentially life-saving tests beats the time and stress a heart attack, stroke or other serious problem may involve. A skin screening takes 10 minutes. A healthy heart screening takes 30 minutes. All the time in the world won’t mean anything to you if you have a life-threatening health issue. It is important that people recognize that even if they feel fine, there could be a monster lurking in the dark.”
Besides the life-saving potential, perhaps the biggest influence Health Education programs have on people’s lives is that they help people to take charge of their own health. “All of our programs empower people to maintain their own health and well being,” said McNichols.
If you’d like to learn more about or register for upcoming classes and events to take control of your health, go online. You can search by key word or scroll the list of upcoming events. You can also schedule a screening or an appointment with a health coach by calling the Health Education Center at the Chicago Ridge Mall at 708-423-5774. You can also visit the Health Education Center in person M-F from 8-8, Saturday 9-5, and Sunday from 12-4.