“At a certain weight, many people realize they need to improve their quality of life, and I want nothing more than to help them achieve that,” says Oates, who has served the program for six years. “Often, reaching a goal means they can get down on the ground to play with their grandchildren or resume former hobbies.”
In addition to providing patient education and support, Oates and her fellow team members help patients understand what is needed under their health insurance plan.
“We help them to figure out the requirements for surgery, then help them develop a strategy to get there,” says Oates.
Oates says she and her fellow health educators strive to be good role models by exercising, making healthy food choices and even participating in Ascension Via Christi’s non-surgical weight management program, which uses HMR meals and shakes combined with diet and exercise to achieve rapid weight loss.
Oates, who has participated in the 12-week program in the past, along with her patients, says that’s given her a firsthand understanding of patients’ struggles.
“All of us try really hard to practice what we preach so we know part of what we ask patients to do,” says Oates. “Patients aren’t walking alone.”
Patients interested in losing weight surgically are required to complete an eight-week patient education course.
“The first four weeks are centered around behavioral habits and the second are all about learning what life will be like after they have their surgery,” says Oates.
“It’s important to us to show transparency, support and encouragement to patients because of how monumental the moments when they reach their goals are compared to the hard days when they want to give up,” says Oates. “We’re here, happy to help and ready to make a difference however we can.”