ILWACO — Teaching people battling chronic illness how to work with healthcare providers and take control of their condition is the focus of a free six-week education program that begins July 7 at Ocean Beach Hospital and Medical Clinics.

Developed by Stanford University, this in-depth course supplements clinical treatment and helps patients suffering from illnesses like diabetes and heart disease pursue normal daily activities, according to Denise Ross, a registered nurse.

“This is a fabulous program that gives you the skills to cope with chronic illnesses and lead a productive life,” said Ross, a diabetes educator at Ocean Beach Hospital. “It teaches you how to problem-solve and move toward a healthier lifestyle. Everybody with a chronic disease should take advantage of this opportunity.”

Along with the loss of physical conditioning and fatigue most chronic disease causes, many people suffer emotional distress like anger and depression, Ross added. The workshop will address those issues and help individuals develop strategies and techniques to reduce the effects of chronic illnesses. One key benefit, she said, is that the course shows people how to create a personal action plan so they can achieve their goals and live healthier. 

“There are a lot of people living with chronic illness and pain, and this course is full of sound information about exercise, nutrition, healthy eating habits and handling medications,” said Ross.

Nutrition is an important component of chronic disease management, particularly with diabetes, added Deanna Duret, a registered dietitian and diabetes educator at Ocean Beach Hospital. In many instances, she said, simple adjustments in diet can vastly improve a person’s nutrition and quality of life.

The workshop also teaches people how to discuss chronic illness with their healthcare provider. “This is something often difficult for people to do,” said Ross.

The sessions will run from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the hospital conference rooms on Thursdays, July 7 through Aug. 11. There is no charge for the workshop, but registration is required.

For more information, or to register, contact Ross at 360-642-6308.

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