New Jersey success stories

NJ Local Success Stories
Quality improvement endeavors can often feel overwhelming, but chances are, you can learn from the experiences that another physician, hospital or nursing home has had in a similar situation. Coupled with support from Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, learning what has worked for others — and what didn't — is a valuable strategic planning component. 

HQSI Staff Members Steps Up to Volunteer as a Peer Leader for EDC Program

Greg Coats PhotoWhen New Jersey’s Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) team asked for staff volunteers to help serve as peer leaders for its Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) classes in the spring of 2016, Greg was one of the first to step up to the plate. Greg is the accounting manager in the finance department at Healthcare Quality Strategies, Inc. (HQSI). He believes he seized the perfect opportunity to get more involved in the quality improvement arena of HQSI’s work. 

Greg really liked the idea of facilitating conversations around healthy living because he believed it would only benefit his ongoing goal of weight loss. Greg has been on a journey for two years to reduce his weight, increase his physical activity and be more mindful of his lifestyle decisions. In the spring of 2018, Greg had passed the 50 pound weight loss mark. He is happy to report having more energy. Taking walks, camping, enjoying day trips and playing chess competitively are a few of the activities he enjoys.

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As for his own plan for food choices, Greg has incorporated more salads into his diet. He’ll eat a salad as part of a meal each day or, in some cases, chose a larger salad with some added protein as the meal itself. Focusing on portion sizes has also been pivotal to his success. Understanding proper serving sizes and how they best play into his meals has been key. 
“I don’t feel guilty when I choose to have a piece of pie because I know that overall, I’m making much healthier choices,” he said.
Greg recently shared a moment during one of his classes when a participant told the story of his own weight loss and HbA1c success. The participant felt validated by his physician who told him to “keep doing what you are doing.” 
“I felt like my role as a peer leader guided and supported this participant and it was rewarding to hear his story being told,” he said. 
Another story involved a couple where only one spouse was active. Each week, the husband encouraged his wife to join him in his action plan for walking and increasing activity. Slowly but surely, her activity level increased each week. Her husband said he couldn’t be happier to have his walking buddy back.
When asked about his advice for people who want to make lifestyle changes, Greg recommends that by making a small change and sticking with it, people can continue to make other changes.  Most importantly, he warns people not to be too hard on themselves if they “mess up.” 
“Don’t let a setback stop you from moving forward,” he said. “Just get up and start fresh the next day.”
Ultimately, the opportunity to be a peer leader was a win-win for Greg. He has enjoyed being a part of EDC workshops and has found it rewarding to watch participants succeed on their own their journey for a healthier life. 
“I feel I am making an impact,” Greg said. “And being in this motivational environment has certainly helped me along my own journey.”
About Everyone with Diabetes Counts
EDC is a national initiative funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and offers free self-management workshops to people with Medicare who have diabetes, their family members and caregivers.  Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, supported locally by HQSI, offers the free workshops throughout New Jersey. Workshops are designed to educate individuals about diabetes and help them learn how to manage it and take control of their health through various tools, behavior modification and coping techniques. Participants learn about diabetes and its risks, preventing complications, healthy eating, exercise, how to deal with stress and difficult emotions, managing medications and much more.
To learn more or find an upcoming workshop in your area, call Jarmaine Williams at (732) 955-8168 or check out our class listing page