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UMU, NEOMED students recognized during ACH health coaches transition ceremony

June 3, 2015

Alliance Community Hospital (ACH) recently recognized the first group of student health coaches from the University of Mount Union (UMU) and Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEMOMED) who successfully completed the Alliance Community Care Network (ACCN) health coaching program. The ACCN is a free program that partners a health coach with an individual who has chronic health challenges and operates under a “No Discharge” philosophy by following the client through all transitions of care.

The ACCN team is made up of health coaches, nurses, pharmacist, dietician, social worker/counselor, pastoral support and physicians. Health Coaches are college students interested in the healthcare field who have completed an educational class led by a multidisciplinary team of health care providers from ACH. Topics of this class include healthcare reform, health literacy, barriers to healthcare, chronic disease management, and behavior modification. The students are then partnered with a patient and work under the direction of the ACCN team for a duration of one year.  

“Our vision is to enhance the overall health and wellbeing of at risk individuals in our community,” said Ann Keene, RN, Director of ACCN.  

The ACCN is currently managing 35 patients. In 2012, 292 patient visits or encounters were made. The ACCN health coaches program has 11 active coaches that have completed their year requirement and are ready to transition their patients to a new health coach. Recognized NEOMED health coaches included: Ulyana Telyeten, Leah Dunnells, Emily Ricci, Laura Stasiak, Brittany Harbert, Dana Bachmann and Maria Kiraly. Recognized UMU health coaches included: Eva Laino, Megan McMinn and Taylor Nervo.

The ACCN health coaches program is as much of a learning opportunity for the students as it is for the patients they care for.

“My emotions over the past year have gone from nervous, to excited, to woeful,” said Dana Bachmann, an ACCN health coach and NEOMED student. “I was nervous to be part of a brand new program, I was excited to finally meet my patient for the first time, and I was woeful that my time as a health coach was coming to an end.”

John Wright, 84, of Sebring, Ohio, is currently a patient in the ACCN program. He is widowed without children and has suffered with high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic back pain. When health coaches Dana Bachmann and Brittany Harbert first began visiting John, they discovered that since his wife had passed, simple tasks such as paying bills, writing grocery lists or recognizing the correct number for a medicine dose were difficult as he was struggling to read, write or recognize letters and numbers. He told his health coaches he was determined to learn these new skills.

“I immediately thought to myself, ‘I don’t know the first thing about helping someone learn to read and write,” said Brittany Harbert, ACCN health coach and NEOMED student. “But we were determined to find a way. The library would mail books to his house and we would sit down and help him sound out the words.”

At the health coaches transitional visit with John, he was able to write 22 sentences and swiftly read through the books.

“Seven years ago I could not read or write,” said John Wright. “My health coaches gave me a tablet and so many pens I’ll never run out.” 

John’s struggle with diabetes would provide his coaches with another opportunity to teach him the skills he needed to manage the disease. During one visit, Dana and Brittany learned he had not being using his insulin pen correctly and had been guessing at the dosage. They patiently taught John how to inject 30 units of insulin.

“To verify he understood what we were doing and how many units to inject, we turned the pen back to 0 units and asked him to dial it to 30,” said Harbert. “He zipped right past 30 – that’s when it clicked. He did not know what the number 30 looked like. So I found a black pen and drew it on the box so he could match the numbers up.”

The health coaches also educated John on the different aspects of a diabetes friendly diet. When the dietitian provided recipes above John’s reading level, his health coaches asked for simpler words and pictures to explain the types of food he should and should not be eating.

“I love my teachers,” said Wright.” You’ve done a great job and I will miss you.”      

“[John] taught me to be kind and to be patient and to not take advantage of the skills and opportunities that I have in life,” said Bachmann. “I hope that I have made as large of an impact on his life as he has made on mine.”

“The experience we had with our patient were ones an individual could not teach in a classroom; just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two patients are alike,”  said Harbert. “Now when I speak with patients in the pharmacy or working on a case in class, the first questions I ask are ‘what are your goals’ and ‘what do you want me to help you achieve?’”

The health coach program has started their second generation of students, 23 from the University of Mount Union and 11 from NEOMED.  

For more information about the Alliance Community Care Network or to make a referral, please call 330-596-7264.

Graduating ACCN health coaches from left to right are Brittany Harbert, Laura Stasiak, Dana Bachmann, Emily Ricci, Leah Dunnells, Ulyana Telyeten, Maria Kiraly and Eva Laino. 

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