From the WCMS: You can live healthy and live with a chronic disease

Do you have patients, friends, or family members living with a chronic disease? Whatever health issue they are facing, you can help them take charge and enjoy a better quality of life. Living Healthy, a program of the Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation is a fun, interactive workshop designed for people with one or more chronic health conditions.

Research conducted on this evidence-based course developed in the mid-1990s at Stanford University has shown that the program helps people manage pain and fatigue, lessen depression and frustration, communicate effectively with family, friends, and health professionals and increase fitness and self-confidence

Living Healthy, also known as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) is a 6-week program facilitated for anywhere between 8-15 participants who are living with some form of chronic condition or a loved one of someone with a chronic condition.

Developed by staff at the Stanford School of Medicine, the CDSMP is meant to compliment regular treatment and disease-specific education that physicians or other clinicians. For WCMS, it also provides Project Access® patients of Buncombe County that suffer from chronic diseases with a program that has been proven effective at improving health. The program itself is facilitated by 2 trained laypersons, at least one of whom lives with a chronic disease her/himself, over the course of 6 weeks. The benefit to physicians is that their patients with chronic diseases can become better self-managers and improve their overall health.
Elena Ruiz, Bilingual Project Access Navigator and Living Healthy Program Coordinator for the WCMS program, also is the first Master Trainer and leads the Spanish-speaking version of Living Healthy-CSDM called Tomando.
One of the recent Living Healthy program graduates Mary Cathy Pride says, “I’d like to thank Project Access for making Healthy Living class available discussing chronic conditions.  You’ve heard the old saying…that knowledge is power.  What is knowledge if you can’t put it into practical application.  We learned how to deal with our condition in positive, ever changing ways…Life now goes on” Another class member Teresa Fender noted, “This course was a true stepping stone to reach higher goals for myself and to realize I can reach them. There were many great ideas and techniques I learned which I utilize daily, and my life has become better because of it.” 

Subjects covered in the Living Healthy program include:  techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain, and isolation; appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance; appropriate use of medications; communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals; nutrition and how to evaluate new treatments.

The Living Healthy program is part of the WCMS Foundation. The Foundation is the physician and community-led charitable arm of the medical society, addressing issues of access to quality healthcare, disparities in health, and health & wellness. The Foundation’s nationally-recognized flagship program, Project Access, is a comprehensive volunteer primary and specialty physician network, providing access to healthcare at no charge for low-income, uninsured residents of Buncombe County.

WCMS is located at 304 Summit Street, Asheville.

For more information about the Living Healthy Program contact: Elena Ruiz, Living Healthy Coordinator at the Western Carolina Medical Society at, or (828) 274-6989, ext. 304.


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