FORMER Stampeder Fred James wanted to find out whether making lifestyle changes could help lower his cholesterol levels when they spiked last year. So family physician Dr. Lindsay Jantzie referred him to health management nurse Neelam Shah to discuss strategies that could make a significant difference. “I wanted to see if I could get my cholesterol levels down by consciously doing the things I needed to doeating better and exercising,” Fred says. “I wasn’t ready to start taking [prescription medication]. Talking with Neelam really heightened my awareness of what I needed to do.”

How the appointments help

Armed with advice about reading labels, shopping better and staying focused, Fred succeeded in almost halving his cholesterol levels within three months. He is not taking medication.“I really like the wellness approach,” says Fred. Last year, the 18 health management nurses at Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network had 9,728 patient interactions. In addition to helping patients make lifestyle changes, health management nurses provide detailed information about a range of diseases. They also take blood pressure readings and teach patients to do it at home.

Greater autonomy

Neelam says the more patients learn, the more autonomy they develop and the greater responsibility they feel for their own health. “We play a role in reassuring and coaching the patients,” she says. “It empowers people to make changes and feel confident about them. The changes Fred made were impressive.”

To learn more about our health management nurses, please go to our Health Team pages.