Kent State Employee Achieves Success With University Wellness Programs
Imagine being faced with a health concern. One way to handle it is to accept a prescription from the doctor and go about your life. But this was not an option for Michealle Gabrovsek, director of technology portfolio management at Kent State University. With the help of Kent State’s wellness program – not medication – she faced her issue head on.
At her yearly doctor appointment in January 2017, Ms. Gabrovsek was told she had high cholesterol.
Ms. Gabrovsek was shocked. She thought she was living a healthy lifestyle.
“I was actually running about three miles a day, so I thought I was doing everything right,” Ms. Gabrovsek says.
What came next was normal protocol.
“My doctor said to me ‘you need to go on medication,’ and I said, 'well let me see if I can get it down,’” Ms. Gabrovsek says.
She insisted she could manage this herself without medication. She pleaded for the chance to prove it.
“I did explain to my doctor that we had this Be Well program, and that I was going to work with a dietician,” she explains.
Ms. Gabrovsek says her doctor gave her three months to lower her cholesterol but was not expecting much.
Ms. Gabrovsek turned to Kent State’s wellness partner, Be Well Solutions, to work on lowering her cholesterol levels and improving her overall health.
Through the Wellness Your Way employee wellness program, employees are presented with various health and wellness screening opportunities, and are able to schedule appointments with health coaches if they decide to voluntarily participate. Kimberly Hauge, Kent State’s director of employee wellness, notes that while participation is not required in these programs, it is highly encouraged for preventive medicine and self-care.
“The employees are not required to be involved with these programs,” Ms. Hauge says. “We don’t feel that wellness should be imposed on a person. It should be something to help them thrive.”
Ms. Gabrovsek met with Abigail Saponaro, a wellness dietitian with Be Well Solutions, to devise a strategic plan to lower her cholesterol levels. At their meeting, they were able to look at Ms. Gabrovsek’s diet and make other changes to bring down these levels.
“We talked through very specific things that I was eating, and Abigail provided all kinds of alternatives; some things I’d never even heard of, but now I’ve incorporated in my diet,” Ms. Gabrovsek says. “We were able to go back and forth and make some adjustments, and it wasn’t anything where I was forced to eat something I didn’t want to eat. It wasn’t a huge adjustment.”
Ms. Sapanoro says Ms. Gabrovsek was motivated to improve her health. She describes the situation as “unique” because she was highly motivated.
“I could tell she was going to listen because she took notes,”Ms. Saponaro says. “It was a breath of fresh air talking to her.”
At her follow-up appointment three months later, Ms. Gabrovsek’s doctor was pleasantly surprised that her cholesterol levels had dropped significantly, and she even lost a few pounds. Her doctor concluded that she no longer needed medication for her cholesterol. She had done it.
Ms. Saponaro says that while dietitians and other health coaches can make the recommendations for an individual to improve their health and wellness, the individual has to implement the recommendations and make these changes themselves to become successful in their health journey.
“Michealle had the right attitude and didn’t come in with complaints,” Ms. Saponaro says. “She was told what to do, and she did it.”
Currently, Ms. Gabrovsek is still working on maintaining a low cholesterol level by continuing to implement recommended diet alternatives along with exercising regularly. The challenge will be keeping her cholesterol down since cholesterol runs in her family.
The success of Ms. Gabrovsek’s experience with Be Well Solutions is representative of the success of Kent State’s wellness programs as a whole, Ms. Hauge says.
“Since we’ve been tracking, we’ve had a 26 percent increase in participation in the wellness program from 2016 to 2017, and we’re definitely on track to do even better than that for 2018,” Ms. Hauge says.
“I think it’s really important to get the word out that this program is there because it has helped me,” Ms. Gabrovsek says. “I wanted to share my story, so whoever is considering the wellness programs realizes that it does have an impact and it does affect people in a positive way. I hope it continues because it has been a huge help to me.”
For more information about Kent State’s partnership with Be Well Solutions, visit www.kent.edu/hr/benefits/partners-bewellsolutions.
For more information about the Employee Wellness Program at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/hr/benefits/wellness.