Grateful member shares experience with Fallon's Disease Management Programs
Posted December 9, 2015
Three years ago, Denise Gamache began to receive letters from a Fallon Health disease management health educator, Sharon Ware, offering support in managing her asthma, a condition she has had ups and downs with since she was diagnosed at age 13.
Denise wondered what a disease management program would "cost" her and how much of her time it was going to take. She was hesitant, but Sharon continued to follow up. “I worry about you,” Sharon reiterated until Denise finally decided to try our program.
"Within two days of working with Sharon, I was great. I had waited too long to take a step,” said Denise.
Denise had struggled with asthma flares for years but her solution was to go to the emergency room and pay hospital bills. She had also unsuccessfully tried for 15 years to get a nebulizer to keep at home. Today, with Fallon’s help, Denise has not been to the emergency room in three years for asthma and has finally gotten a nebulizer for treatments at home.
Asthma can be triggered by stress, and Sharon was there when Denise experienced life’s challenges such as the sudden death of her husband and breast cancer. It wasn’t easy to prioritize asthma, particularly after Denise’s husband died. “I didn’t care,” she said.
Sharon was there for her and continues to provide her with the resources she needs. “We laugh and tell each other stories. I try to educate her on the simple and inexpensive things she can do to say healthy.”
“I’ve made huge changes,” said Denise. “My asthma is never going to be cured so I have to control it. You have to know your triggers.”
Denise learned that keeping her acid reflux in check can help with asthma. Because she has cats, Sharon emphasized the importance of hand-washing. Denise also has wood and tile floors and gets someone else to empty the vacuum. Plus, she invested in a vacuum with a washable filter.
To help manage her asthma, Denise uses a Flovent inhaler as well as wears a mask when appropriate. She also needs to be diligent about changing the filters in her air conditioner and furnace and cleaning her ceiling fans. Unfortunately, when she feels good, she forgets to take these necessary steps. “Thankfully, Sharon will call and remind me. I do know it’s better to prevent an asthma flare-up than deal with one.”
One of the benefits of working with a health educator as opposed to a physician is that the health educator has the time to listen, ask thorough questions and consistently follow up.
“If I’m sick, I’m going to call Sharon at Fallon. Her number is stuck on my wall, and I tell my family ‘Don’t touch that paper!’” said Denise.
“You have to have a support system. I don’t know how people get by without it,” said Denise. “Don’t be afraid to get support. It’s worth your while. I’ve learned so much more about my health in the last few years with Fallon than I have in the last 40 years.”