After Gene Heyse’s annual health screening in 2015, Notre Dame Wellness Center staff contacted him to discuss his high blood pressure (150/100) and encourage him to consider working with a wellness coach.
With his family history, Heyse decided it was time to get serious about lowering his blood pressure. “Both of my grandfathers died from heart attacks, one in his 40s, and my uncle died in his 60s of complications from diabetes,” says Heyse.
“I met Maureen Jamieson, and she gave me some great advice,” says Heyse, machine shop manager in the engineering machine shop at Hessert Aerospace Laboratory. “She said if I could lose just 7 percent of my total weight, all my numbers would change. And she was right.”
Jamieson, the chronic condition management nurse and dietitian at the Wellness Center, also encouraged Heyse to stop eating before he felt full, eat less red meat and add a few more fruits and vegetables to his diet.
Just four months into the plan, he reached his goal of losing 7 percent of his body weight. “I was very encouraged,” says Heyse. “My numbers were better, and I thought, ‘Hey, what Maureen is saying is really working.’’’
Three years later he’s still meeting monthly with Jamieson (“She keeps me accountable,” he says). He’s lost 50 pounds, and his blood pressure is down to 132/80.
Heyse has always been a runner, but before he began working with Jamieson, he was inconsistent. Now he runs six days a week early in the morning. He has also participated in three Notre Dame recreational cross-country sports events. “When I signed up, I thought it would be a mix of faculty, staff and graduate students,” says Heyse. “In reality it was mostly undergraduate students. I was the grandpa in the group.”
The young contestants were slow to warm up to Heyse in the first race, but by the time they ran the third race, they were cheering him on. Out of approximately 150 contestants, Heyse finished about 80th, he says.
Jamieson also encouraged Heyse to “breathe and appreciate” to reduce stress in his life. Now when he’s stuck in traffic, he breathes deeply and thinks about the blooming flowers or people and things he appreciates.
Heyse has a lot of appreciation for Jamieson and for the way he feels today. If he could have a wish, he says, “I’d wish that every person who goes through this program could feel like I do. I feel like a teenager.”
A plan for your personal wellness journey
Did your annual health screening show elevated blood sugar or cholesterol levels? Are you dealing with a chronic medical condition such as asthma or diabetes? Do you want to stop smoking or lose weight?
The Notre Dame Wellness Center offers wellness coaching and assistance with chronic condition management free of charge to benefit-eligible faculty, staff and their dependents.
“And if your primary care physician is not at the Wellness Center, we can coordinate with them,” says Maureen Jamieson, chronic condition management nurse and dietitian.
Her job, Jamieson says, is to assist patients on what she views as a “wellness pathway.”
That means creating a plan — a roadmap — for your wellness journey. If you have asthma, what are the triggers? Do you carry an inhaler with you? What do you need to be aware of daily? Is your nutrition optimal?
The goal, Jamieson says, is to set people up to be successful every day in managing a chronic medical condition.
Conditions for which patients might seek help include high blood pressure, diabetes (both Type I and Type II), elevated blood sugar, obesity, coronary artery disease and dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides and cholesterol).
In the Wellness Center’s pharmacy, Walgreen’s pharmacist Vincent Workman is also available for private medication consultations. Make an appointment for a medication well-check — a review of current medications, whether they’re being taken properly, if they’re compatible with each other and whether generics are available.
“There are many people who would benefit from a medication review, especially those with multiple conditions or medications,” Workman says. “Patients who are diabetic may not realize that their medications for blood sugar control are free when diabetic supplies and medications are filled or refilled on the same day. And whenever anyone gets a new blood glucose monitor, we can walk them through how to use it.”
Wellness coach Martha Vanderheyden, a certified coaching professional who specializes in helping people change behaviors, is also available for consultation. Wellness coaches don’t offer medical advice, but can help you identify issues and make positive changes in your life, whether it’s reducing stress, stopping smoking or just being happier and healthier.
Referrals are not necessary to make an appointment with Jamieson or Vanderheyden, and appointment are free — there are no co-pays or insurance billing. Make an appointment by calling the Wellness Center, 574-634-9355.
Wellness Center hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays (on home football weekends, the center is closed Saturday and open Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.).
Walgreens Pharmacy hours in the Wellness Center and at the drive-through window are 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays (on home football weekends, the pharmacy is closed Saturday and open Sunday 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.). Call 574-271-5622.