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Berlie’s story: Building Healthy Habits for the Future


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Berlie began the Complex Care program following a diagnosis of diabetes in July of last year. After feeling unwell for a time, she performed several tests with her family doctor, as she previously developed diabetes around 2008 when she was pregnant. As it turned out, her diabetes had returned so she began to consider her options: should she start seeing a dietician or invest in diet foods?

Berlie was driven to participate in the Complex Care program as she began thinking about the future. She began to ask questions about what would happen if she didn’t look after herself. Severe diabetes, she recounts, can lead to a loss of eyesight and soreness of the limbs. Were she to become blind, she would be unable to engage in her profession; she works helping people file taxes. Severe diabetes would make it much more difficult to look after her family.

Berlie realized that there would be obstacles if she didn’t look after herself. Compromises and changes needed to be made to be healthy and take control of her diabetes. She worked with her family nurse specifically around food and exercise, routinely working on new suggestions. In the past, he would get frustrated when she would deliberately eat healthy foods, but her blood sugar stayed high. She has learned healthy alternatives to target her blood sugar specifically. On top of this, her nurse encouraged her to start incorporating regular exercise, stressing that consistency is key when forming healthy habits.

A few months out of the program and she is feeling good – her clients ask what she has done. She looks and feels younger, and can engage more with life, as losing weight and treating diabetes has ended up mending other problems. Berlie recalls that she has been trying to lose weight for many years. She recounts consistently weighing in around 135 pounds, now she fluctuates between 116 and 120 pounds. She takes regular walks after supper, aiming for half an hour to an hour. She is more able to go canoeing and biking in the summertime, and she has more energy to be involved with her child – who is now 13 – spending good quality time. To make long-lasting change, she says, you have to work yourself and make a dedicated effort.

She has become more in tune with her body, explaining that: “I will know when my blood sugar is average, I feel I am healthy and feel no side effects. But on the other hand, you know when you are not following the rules because there are consequences.” Between her job and her family, she is busy, but she finds ways to use what she has learned in the Complex Care program to stay accountable and keep her blood sugar manageable.

Bernie recalls that the program was a positive experience, and while she would recommend the Complex Care programs to others in her situation, she wants others to know that while the programming works, people must be consistently motivated in order to change their lifestyles.

“It is important to take care of your body while you have the opportunity,” she says. “Life is not a movie where you can call cut and start from the top. You need to make good use of your one shot.”

Health Basics was my Kick Start to a Healthier Weight

Click here to visit the Red Deer Primary Care Centre.

Red Deer Primary Care Network (RDPCN) is a partnership between Family Doctors and Alberta Health Services. Health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, nurses and pharmacists work in clinics alongside family doctors. In addition, programs and groups are offered at the RDPCN central location. This improves access to care, health promotion, chronic disease management and coordination of care. RDPCN is proud of the patient care offered, the effective programs it has designed and the work it does with partners in health care and the community.

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Empowered, Happy and Healthy

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Michelle lost a kidney to cancer 20 years ago. Her blood pressure has been challenging to keep in a healthy range since. A busy life with little focus on healthy got her in trouble. In late December 2020, she ended up in emergency with extremely high blood pressure in the 200/150 range and a blood sugar of 25. She was very sick. She had a second similar episode in January. At that time, she was let go from her job. This turned out to be the best thing that happened as she now had time to focus on her health.

The RDPCN family nurse recommended she attend Diabetes the Basics as well as providing her with ongoing one-to-one support for several months. She also got connected to a weight management program, supervised exercise and Heartwise.

Fast forward to 18 months, she has decreased her clothing size from 20 to 14. Her blood sugar is now 7 and her blood pressure is in the range of 138/95. Great improvements!

She is back to work. She walks about an hour per day and she feels amazing! She has used the portion control plate to help improve her eating habits. She is eating way better and enjoying it. One thing she could not give up was Pepsi. She used to have at least 3 cans per day. Now she uses Diet Pepsi in much smaller volumes, but she cannot get by without some Pepsi. Long-lasting insulin and using the Libre sensor have been great tools to help her live healthily. She feels very empowered, happy and healthy!!

Learn more about the Red Deer Primary Care Network. Click here. 

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Red Deer Recovery Community will offer hope for residents from Central Alberta and around the world

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Central Albertans won’t be the only ones paying close attention to the official opening of the Red Deer Recovery Community next month. According to Marshall Smith, Chief of Staff to Premier Danielle Smith, jurisdictions from across North America will be looking to the Red Deer Recovery Community for potential answers to their own issues. Red Deer Recovery Community will be the first of 11 the province is opening over the coming months.

Cities across North America and beyond have been battling an addictions crisis, and losing. As the number of homeless people and the number of fatal overdoses continues to rise, cities are looking for new solutions. After years of slipping further behind, Alberta has decided on a new approach to recovery and Marshall Smith has been leading the charge.

Smith is a recovering addict himself.  A political organizer from BC, he once worked for former Premier Gordon Campbell.  His own crisis started with alcohol, then moved to cocaine dependency before he eventually succumbed to methamphetamine use.  The successful political operative found himself without work and living on the street for over four years. Eventually he benefited from a 35 day stay in a publicly funded recovery centre in BC.

Former Alberta Premier Jason Kenney brought Smith to Alberta to head up the UCP’s addictions and recovery file.  His personal experiences and incredible comeback story are at the heart of Alberta’s new approach.

While the success of recovery programs vary, Marshall Smith and Dr. Christina Basedow of the Edgewood Health Network (operators of Red Deer Recovery Community) say with the right treatment and the right amount of time, they expect a very high rate of successful recoveries.  Smith says the province won’t give up on patients, even if some have to go through more than once.

The Recovery Community is central to this new approach, but patients who will be able to stay for up to a year, will need somewhere to go when they leave. This week the province also announced the Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program in Edmonton.  This “second stage” housing will ensure former addicts have a place to stay upon leaving addiction treatment centres. This will be their home in the critical days following treatment when they need to reestablish their lives by finding work or educational opportunities.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston feels the 75 bed Recovery Community will be transformation for Central Alberta. Mayor Johnston says all Central Albertans will play an important role in helping former addicts when they leave the Recovery Community.

Construction of the Red Deer Recovery Community is all but complete.

Thursday, municipal and provincial politicians toured the facility and were introduced to the operators of the new facility. Dr Christina Basedow, Western VP of Edgewood Health Network teamed up with Nicholas Milliken, Alberta’s Mental Health and Addiction Minister, to take questions about operations.

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston, Dr. Christina Basedow, Minister Nicholas Milliken, Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange

Premier Danielle Smith made the trip to Central Alberta to offer support for the project and see the facility first hand.

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Premier Danielle Smith listen to Chief of Staff Marshall Smith 

Marshall Smith explains aspects of the Recovery Community to Premier Danielle Smith, Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston and Red Deer MLA’s Adriana LaGrange and Jason Stephan

In the days leading up to an official opening expected in February, Edgewood Health Network is finalizing the admission process which will see the first batch of up to 75 people suffering addictions moving into single and double occupied rooms.

Typical double occupancy room at Red Deer Recovery Community

The new 75-bed facility, will begin accepting residents battling addictions in February.  Those residents will stay for up to a full year accessing medications, programming and developing life skills.

In the meantime the province expects a recovery industry will be developing in Red Deer including second stage housing opportunities and counselling.

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