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Jeremiah's Extraordinary Story - A Weight Loss Journey

At 295 pounds, and suffering from chronic ulcerative colitis, Jeremiah was at risk for multiple health problems. After McFarland Clinic's Population Health department reached out to him, Jeremiah's weight loss journey began.

“There's not very many 295 pounders that are gonna tell you ‘I feel awesome,’” Jeremiah said. “I've always had nutrition problems. I didn't feel good, I didn't look good. I wasn't as good of a dad to my kids, and I wasn't as good of a husband to my wife. I couldn't go out and play with [his oldest son] Ben for long periods of time because I'd get worn out a lot faster. I'd never been that big before.”

McFarland Clinic’s Population Health department works with patients like Jeremiah on their health problems.

Austin Lepper, Director of Clinical Analytics at McFarland, explained, “Population Health provides nurses who serve as care coordinators, who act as liaisons between patients–typically with chronic conditions–and their primary care physician. They not only work to set plans and goals with the patient but also keep the physician up to date on what's going on. They also have close access to the physician to answer any questions or address any concerns that might arise.”

After Jeremiah was identified as being at risk, McFarland Clinic Care Coordinator Linda Hoff reached out to him.

“We use motivational interviewing techniques to try to help patients identify what they want to work on and hopefully to promote positive behavior changes,” said Linda.

Jeremiah recalls being skeptical of Linda at first.

“She would call, and at first I thought it was a gimmick. I thought, ‘Well this is probably the insurance just making sure that I'm worthy to be taking this medicine or that I really need it.' And I thought, 'Well, I'll jump through their hoops.’”

Linda points out that McFarland Clinic’s care coordinators work with the patient’s goal in mind.

“With care coordination it's important to know that it is not my goal, it is the patient's goal,” she said. “[Jeremiah] was the one that decided he wanted to work on weight loss.”

“It was like a light clicked,” Jeremiah said. “You can eat different types of vegetables. You can eat healthy, and it doesn't have to be bad.”

Dr. Daniel Feddersen, McFarland Clinic Family Medicine physician, was Jeremiah’s primary care provider. Dr. Feddersen said Jeremiah’s commitment to eating better played an important role in the improvement of his health.

“For him to watch his diet definitely was an important aspect of the weight loss,” Dr. Feddersen said. “I [also] think it probably helped him with the symptoms [of his colitis].”

Exercise was another significant part of Jeremiah’s turnaround.

“Eventually when I made exercise part of the priority, things started changing for me,” he said. “Phone calls with Linda got easier because it wasn't [her asking] ‘What are you doing?’ It [was] 'Hey, what did you do?' And it got fun at that point."

“When I exercise I'll go down [to his basement] and I’ll workout on the treadmill, or we have an elliptical down there. I like to run outside too.”

Jeremiah’s wife Janci noted that his new healthier lifestyle has had a positive effect on their entire family.

“He just has so much more energy to be present with our family,” she said. “So he likes to go on walks. We're just more active as a family. So it's helped me, it's helped our boys, and it's made our lifestyle better in general.”

Dr. Feddersen agrees about the positive impact on Jeremiah’s family.

“I think one of the things that's also been fun about his weight loss journey is just how excited he is to share that with his family, [to] get them motivated to try to get on the weight loss program as well.”

Hoff said that creating a positive impact on others is a goal for McFarland Clinic’s Population Health department. “I think that's one of the hopes for Population Health, that you have a ripple effect and that you can make a difference for one person, and that person in turn makes a difference to the people that are around them.”

Another result of Jeremiah’s improved health is his participation in physical events.

“I did a 5K run on July 4th,” he said. “I want something that's going to push me a little harder than that, so my brother and I are kicking around the idea of doing a triathlon next summer.”

Jeremiah cites the help he has received from McFarland Clinic’s Population Health department and from Linda as a significant part of his weight loss journey.

“This is a service that I have with Linda that I've never had anywhere else, and at first I was very, very skeptical on. But she's part of this with me. She really is."

And back on the subject of that “ripple effect,” Jeremiah advises other people to work on their health.

“If you keep your priorities in line and you make it a priority to work on your health, you ask questions, then you'll do well.”

People who are interested in working with a care coordinator nurse are encouraged to talk to their McFarland Clinic primary care provider.

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