Hospitals Use Health Coaches to Improve the Health of Their Own Employees

June 1, 2013

by Diane Atwood

Diane AtwoodTamara Green still remembers a client she saw when she was a health educator fresh out of col­lege. “All the information I had,” she recalls, “was that she was 32 years old, weighed 350 pounds, and had choles­terol issues and diabetes.”

The first time they met, Green asked the woman about her goals. “I was ready for her to say, ‘I want to lose 200 pounds and exercise.’ Instead, she looked at me and her eyes filled with tears and she answered, ‘I want to be able to go to the park and go down the slide with my kids,”’ Green says.

The why factor

The woman met her goal and also taught Green a les­son about helping people change their lifestyles. “It solidified in me that it’s really about why people want to do something, not what they want to do,” she explains. “We already know what the what is. If we can tap into the why, I think we can become powerful change agents.”

Still mindful of the lesson she learned, Green is now director of well-being and absence management for Providence Health & Services. Headquartered in Renton, WA, the health system includes 32 hospitals in five states. Home base for Green is Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

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