Big Changes for Life

April 9, 2017

Big Changes for Life

Heritage Health’s dietitians help people achieve wellness goals


Bill Mitten weighed 390 pounds about eight months ago. He had suffered four heart attacks and was taking a bevy of heart medications. In addition, he took 300 units of Insulin daily to treat diabetes.

The retired steamfitter with bad knees decided to do something about his situation and got moving — one step at a time. “I was doing nothing,” said the Post Falls resident. “My doctor first asked me why I wasn’t dead already? I said, ‘Nobody told me I was supposed to be.’”

Mitten’s life changed when his doctor recommended he enroll in Heritage Health’s Kroc RX program and a diabetes class. “It probably saved my life,” said Mitten. “Since I started, I’ve lost 57 pounds and I am still losing weight. I am in water aerobics twice a week and I walk a mile on Fridays.”

Kroc Rx participants exercise at a level they can handle while receiving nutritional and emotional support services from Heritage Health. To date, more than 1,000 patients have successfully completed the program at the Kroc Center, Peak Fitness in Post Falls and Rathdrum Fitness.

Dr. Joseph Abate, Heritage Health’s medical director, said participants in the eight-week program lost an average of 5 ½ pounds and dropped their A1C scores, a test to measure blood sugar, by .6. They also improved mental health, reducing test scores for symptoms of depression by 42 percent. “The demand for our programs is increasing because of the success we’re experiencing,” said Abate, who launched Kroc RX in 2015.  “These are lifestyle changes for our patients.”

Proper nutrition is an essential component of a healthy life,  said Heritage Health Dietitian Jennifer Ramsrud. Heritage Health added nutrition education to the Kroc RX program about a year ago.

“We teach them how food works with their bodies,” said Ramsrud. “Many of the people in the program come in with preconceived ideas about what they can or can not eat. It’s not about extremes. This is about lifestyle changes that give them the ability to be healthy.” Mitten said Ramsrud’s approach to nutrition “clicked” with him after years of trying diets and other weight loss strategies.

Heritage Health uses shared medical appointments to deliver important information to patients via a group setting. The healthcare provider offers a wide array of shared medical appointments, including chronic care management, emotional wellness, and aging gracefully.

“It’s great because you’re able to develop relationships with people and the patients help hold each other accountable,” said Ramsrud. “Hopefully, we inspire people to achieve their goals.”