Eastern Minnesota

Eastern Minnesota

LEARN lifestyle management – it works!

Today, Laurie Miller has the energy to take long walks with her dog.

When Laurie Miller discovered Saint Elizabeth’s was making its pilot LEARN program available to the public, she wanted “in.” She was familiar with similar healthy lifestyle and weight loss programs and knew they had been successful.

LEARN is a lifestyle management program offered through Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center. The acronym stands for Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude, Relationships and Nutrition. It’s a scientifically-based, 12-week comprehensive healthy living program designed for adults who are adopting healthy lifestyle changes through improved nutrition and physical activity.

The program is designed for anyone along the weight continuum – those wanting to lose a little, as well as others who need to lose a lot. “I met with Paula Thompson, RD, LD, CDE, director of nutrition services, to learn more about the program at Saint Elizabeth’s,” said Miller. “I thought this program would work for me. It was an excellent value – a 12-week program that included pre- and post-lab tests and weekly meetings and educational sessions.

The component that most interested me was the weekly meeting with a dietitian.

“I wanted to lose weight. I was already on blood pressure pills, had high cholesterol and a family history of diabetes. If I had continued my lifestyle, I’m sure diabetes would have been in my future.”

Miller started LEARN. She attended weekly meetings at Saint Elizabeth’s. She also met with a dietitian for one-on-one counseling sessions to discuss the prior week’s challenges and ways to overcome them.

She weighed in, attended educational sessions and took part in group meetings. According to Thompson, LEARN provides the information and inspiration to make difficult changes last. The strength of the program is the individualized approach that helps participants understand their unique challenges and expectations.

For Miller, the most beneficial piece of LEARN is the education gained and the camaraderie. “It helped so much knowing I was not doing this all by myself,” Miller said. “The people in the group understand and are there to help. The educational sessions were so helpful. For example, one session focused on portion sizes. “This program works,” she added. “I’ve been on many diets, but none offered the encouragement and accountability that LEARN’s one-on-one counseling, personal attention, meetings and weigh-ins offered.

Another perk to this program is that it allows you to eat ‘real’ food – not prepackaged meals or shakes. You eat what everyone else eats.”

Today, Miller’s cholesterol is lower than it was, she has more energy, and she’s lost 30 pounds. “I’m very aware of the choices that I have from portion sizes, ingredients, and types of foods. LEARN is not a ‘thou shalt never’ program – no food is off limits – but some need to be eaten in moderation.”

Miller also participated in the 3-month maintenance program following her initial program. “I still weighed in each week and participated in monthly group meetings.

“I still have goals to increase my activity level and eat more fruits and vegetables,” she said. “I’ve come a long way, and know I have the tools and support I need to go the distance.”

LEARN is facilitated by Paula Thompson, RD, LD, CDE, director of nutrition services, and Julie Jacobs, RD, LD. Both Thompson and Jacobs hold a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association.

If you would like to LEARN how to make a permanent change in your life, contact Paula Thompson at 651.565.5568 or email her at paula.thompson@ministryhealth.org.

Swing bed program speeds recovery

Additional therapy after surgery helped Darlene Dettling, 82, return to independent living at home.

Darlene Dettling, 82, of rural Plum City, can’t say enough about the benefits of Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center’s swing bed program.

Dettling was able to return to her home after a two-week “swing bed” stay at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center, where she prepared for independent living after her hip replacement surgery. Although her husband, Jim, was available to help her, she needed to feel confident enough to manage on her own when he was in the barn or on the tractor.

A swing bed stay is a transitional level of care that is provided in a hospital setting. Often, patients who are well enough to be discharged from the hospital but need additional rehabilitation before returning home are good candidates for swing bed care.

The term “swing bed” simply refers to the change in a patient’s status from needing acute nursing care to an intermediate level of care. The extended hospital stay allows patients to receive rehabilitation, antibiotic therapy, and / or wound care services.

The length of stay in a swing bed program is based on the individual needs and progress of each patient, but cannot exceed 40 days. After her hospital stay in Eau Claire, Dettling’s primary care physician, Jeremy Solberg, MD, of Wabasha Clinic, part of Lake City Medical Center – Mayo Health System, suggested that Dettling be admitted into Saint Elizabeth’s swing bed program to access the skilled care and rehab services she needed.

Shortly after her admittance into the swing bed program, she and her husband met with the Saint Elizabeth’s staff to discuss a care plan.

The staff designed a rehab program to meet Dettling’s needs and help her resume the normal activities needed for independent living.

During her swing bed stay, she received nursing care and regular visits from physical and occupational therapists. The primary focus of this extended stay was to move toward mobility. Building her strength and endurance, improving her range of motion, and ensuring she could perform activities of daily living were priorities that would prepare her for a safe and successful homecoming.

Under the direction of Dr. Solberg, nurses and therapists led her through a series of leg and lower body exercises, rehab treatments, guided hallway walks and personal care tasks. Each of these was an important component of Dettling’s recovery routine.

As her health and stamina improved, so did her ability to care for herself.

“Swing bed is a team approach to care and education,” says Pam Kieffer, director of rehabilitation services. “Patients no longer need acute nursing care; still, skilled services and education are needed to effectively transition back into a home or homelike setting. This time may also help patients prepare mentally and emotionally for the next phase of recuperation.”

With each day that passes, Dettling feels stronger and more self-assured. “I nearly forgot what it feels like to feel good. Thanks to my health care team in Wabasha, I’m looking forward to better days ahead.”

For more information about Skilled Swing Bed / Transitional Care Services at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center, please contact our Social Services Department at 651.565.5566


Lifestyle Management Program

Lifestyle Exercise Attitudes Relationships Nutrition

LEARN is a scientifically-based, step-by-step, 12-week weight management and comprehensive healthy living program.

You will:

  • learn how to make healthy lifestyle changes through weekly coaching.
  • learn how to eat healthy.
  • learn how to increase physical activity.
  • learn to set and meet realistic, achievable goals; make informed choices; and develop new skills during individual consultations.

LEARN to make a permanent change for life.

To learn more or register for SEMC’s upcoming LEARN® program, contact Paula Thompson, RD, LD, CDE, director of nutrition services, at 651.565.5568 or paula.thompson@ministryhealth.org

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