Barbara spent years dealing with post-polio pain. She’d tried numerous programs to get physically active again and did not feel she was as successful as she could be and was becoming frustrated. When she saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a 10-week low-intensity exercise program offered by the Dartmouth Community Health Team, she decided to give it a try.
Before signing up for the program, Barbara met with a wellness facilitator to talk about her health. He took Barbara’s blood pressure, and to her surprise, it was dangerously high. Barbara’s doctor prescribed medication to lower her blood pressure, which made it necessary for her to stop taking her pain medication.
"Andrew coached me through pain management," says Barbara. "He explained how pain works, where it’s coming from and why. It really helped. I feel really confident in managing my pain."
The low-impact exercise program was a great fit for Barbara, who uses a cane to walk. "I didn’t feel out of place. I started by walking for three minutes at a time and resting for seven, and built up to walking for seven minutes at a time and resting for three. I didn’t want to leave the program when it was over. It was just right for me."
Although the learning program is over, Barbara continues to walk outside and do her exercises at home. "It’s changed my life," she says. "It’s made me a different person."
During citizen engagement sessions held by the Community Health Teams, people who have participated in the free wellness programs and navigation service shared their experience:
- "The medical system. It’s like looking at a map from another city and trying to get from here to there ... but when you come to the Community Health Team, they are a ‘system GPS’. I feel like I have an ace in my pocket now with the wellness navigator."
- "I would say life changing for me. Before, I wasn’t involved with anything or anybody and I didn’t have anything to do, I didn’t know what to do. I absolutely did not know what to do, where to go before the wellness navigator."
- "They make you aware of your responsibility for your own health and your own wellness. I think we tend to look to the medical profession to solve problems. And here, you have to face your issue, but in a very supportive, not judgmental way. The Community Health Team has given me so much. I’m learning so much about my own limitations and my own possibilities."
- "At the first workshop, they did a Personal Wellness Profile, which showed me what I needed to improve my health. I attended classes on How to Set Good Goals for weight loss. For the past seven weeks, I’ve been in the Low Intensity Exercise Program. When I started, I could only walk for five to 10 minutes at a very slow pace. Now I can walk normally for 30 minutes."
- "This place is proactive and it’s so totally the way a health system should be. The Community Health Team empowers me."
Community Partner Testimonials
Engagement sessions were also held with community partners, who shared their experience working with the Community Health Teams:
- "... They provide programming that’s tailored to the community . . . They actively engage the community to understand what’s important to the people in the community."
- “We have a very large transient community, and there are a significant number of people living in poverty in this area. So the high quality programming that’s free, locally offered and community focused I think that’s a real accomplishment."
- "... One of the things that stands out for me with the community health teams is just the community presence and the integration of the programming within the community. It’s not just something that’s been parachuted in for a very brief period of time. I’m starting to see that community presence here in terms of their programming is a wonderful thing, and that that programming is being integrated within the community."