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March 7, 2017

ThedaCare Lifestyle Program Boosts Wellness

When ThedaCare speech therapist Meghan Gallagher was looking for an effective way to lose some extra weight, she knew ThedaCare’s intensive Lifestyle Intervention Program fit the bill.

ThedaCare Lifestyle Program Boosts Wellness

Shawano Employees, Spouses Improve Health through 13-Month, Comprehensive Approach to Changing Habits

When ThedaCare speech therapist Meghan Gallagher was looking for an effective way to lose some extra weight, she knew ThedaCare’s intensive Lifestyle Intervention Program fit the bill.

“I’ve been a person who’s struggled with my weight during my adult years – especially after having kids – and was never successful with keeping the weight off,” Gallagher said. “I thought this would be an approach that would work for me, and it does. It works really well.”

Gallagher is one of 23 employees at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano enrolled in ThedaCare’s Lifestyle Intervention Program, launched in 2012 and offered free to ThedaCare employees and to spouses or domestic partners enrolled in the company’s health plan. The program also is available at a special rate to employers in the community.

“Our mission is to improve the health of the community, and it starts first with improving the health of our employees,” said Carey Grieves, health coach at ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano.

The Lifestyle Intervention Program has now seen 22 cohorts of employees, which started in Appleton and has expanded to ThedaCare locations in Waupaca and Shawano. The program is designed to prevent, arrest or even reverse health risk factors such as obesity, cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure, as well as type II diabetes and other diseases. The comprehensive program helps empower participants to take charge of their health through a multi-directional approach, including exercise sessions, yoga classes, nutrition and culinary education, mindfulness and support groups.

“It’s a wonderful program, because we have everything at your fingertips that you might possibly want or need with wanting to improve your lifestyle,” Grieves said. “The goal is finding ways we can best support people and continue to provide what they need to help their health improve.”

Participants also work one-on-one with experts like health coaches, dietitians and exercise specialists. Those who follow the program lose an average of 22 pounds and see significant changes in lab and biometric values such as blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation markers.

Gallagher has lost more than 50 pounds since she began the program in June. “I’m probably doing more cooking now than I ever did raising my kids, which I feel guilty about, but better late than never, right?” Gallagher said.

Because of the focused, long-term commitment required by the program, participants first go through a one-hour screening with a behavioral health specialist. Additionally, they undergo health evaluations and sign a contract committing to classes and sessions, which start with twice-weekly meetings in the early part of the program, later tapering off to monthly meetings.

The intensiveness is what drew Gallagher to the program. While she’s often motivated to lose weight by life events – including her daughter’s wedding in June – she hadn’t found the total lifestyle change that would help her to keep the weight off. “This program has really offered me the formula and the different tools I need,” Gallagher said. “I really feel like it’s a lifestyle change for me that I can live with.”

Shawano lab technician Deborah Hoffman has been suffering with a likely auto-immune disorder for more than a year, trying several treatment methods to alleviate pain without much success. “It took my life away from me,” Hoffmann said. “I could no longer do daily activities. I couldn’t go to a track meet or a football game and watch my kids compete in sports. The pain was never-relenting, and it changes everything.”

The Lifestyle program has made an enormous difference for Hoffmann, who says the focus on a plant-based diet has helped improve the pain by reducing inflammation within her body. The mindful living and stress-reduction aspects have helped her to manage the remaining discomfort.

“The improvement has been immense – it’s absolutely night and day,” Hoffmann said. “I’m also learning to manage my condition better. I’m also more aware of subtle changes in my body so I can adjust what I’m doing to avoid another flare-up.”

ThedaCare earned the Platinum Well Workplace Award from the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), the highest honor from the organization, for the program. For more information on the Lifestyle Intervention Program, contact Diane Schuh at or 920.850.6235.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose, as well as 35 clinics in 14 counties and the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.