Programs to get healthy in 2014

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Full check-up: Joseph Eschbach gets help from Eileen McNichols, an RN and manager for Little Company of Mary's Health Promotion Department, while talking part in the Wake-Up Call Screening, which is a comprehensive screening checking on the risk of stroke or heart attack, | Supplied photo


As we get ready to usher in yet another New Year, people all over Chicagoland are preparing New Year’s resolutions to help improve their minds, bodies and souls.

And while these plans to get — and stay — healthy are laudable, most will fall short of their desired goals, according to Eileen McNichols, manager of Health Promotion Services at Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers in Evergreen Park.

“Most New Year’s resolutions fail because they are unrealistic,” she said. “For resolutions to succeed, they need to be realistic and attainable. People get disappointed when they feel they can’t attain certain goals and simply stop trying.”

McNichols, a registered nurse who has been with Little Company of Mary for 35 years in various capacities, said the hospital offers a myriad of programs, classes and screenings to address everyone’s health concerns.

“We use a holistic approach to getting and keeping people healthy,” she said. “It’s about healing the body, mind and spirit. It’s about striking a balance within. And we do it in a mission-driven environment.”

Getting personal

McNichols said people who are serious about getting healthy should ask themselves how they can change their own personal behavior. “People should have an awareness of the health issues they face.”

Gender, ethnicity and age all factor into the equation. For example, black men should access their risk for prostate cancer and high blood pressure, she said.

“People need to find out what are the common health factors for their specific age and ethnic backgrounds,” McNichols said. “There are also other factors that need to be discussed, and we have people and programs and screenings here that can help with that.”

Some of those programs include: smoking cessation, weight loss, dealing with alcohol abuse, stress management, heart checks, cancer and blood pressure screenings and diabetes support group. There is a host of other programs available at the hospital.

One such program, “Wake-Up Call,” is a comprehensive screening that covers stroke and heart disease. The screening includes chemistry and coronary risk profiles; body fat analysis; blood oxygen level; ultrasounds for abdominal aneurysm, carotid arteries and the peripheral vascular system; a heel ultrasound for osteoporosis and a heart rhythm screening for atrial fibrillation.

The $3,500 screening is available for $150.

“We conduct one-on-one interviews and find out everything we need to know about the clients, including family histories and risk factors,” McNichols said. “Then we’ll design a program specifically for them.”

She said hospital personnel also assist people in helping themselves. “We want to know that they can control themselves,” she said. “What changes are they willing to do to reduce their risk factors. We use positive reinforcement.”

Help people help themselves

McNichols said Little Company of Mary Hospital also offers “personal health coaches” who assist people in improving their lifestyles. “We let our clients know that there is help out there. Our goal is to empower them so they can at least take the first step in helping themselves.”

She said people can take steps on their own to prepare themselves for a change toward a healthier lifestyle. For example, someone trying to lose weight could begin by setting attainable goals for how much weight they want to lose. They could control the portions they consume, eat more fruits and vegetables and drink eight glasses of water each day. They then, obviously, need to ramp up their exercise regimen.

McNichols said health care is unaffordable to many people, which is why the hospital is offering these programs at drastically reduced rates. “Again, this is all part of the hospital’s mission of providing affordable health care to our community.”

For more information or to see what programs are available, please visit Little Company of Mary’s website at or call (708) 324-5774. Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers is at 2800 W. 95th St., Evergreen Park.