A CHIPer Way of Life

November 01, 2006 | Shawna Malvini

Tillamook native Marie Hasbrouch is an engaging, talkative and healthy woman. To look at her, it’s hard to guess her true age of 76 or that she’s ever been unwell. Two years ago she had diabetes, heart trouble, sleep apnea and arthritis. These health issues motivated her to seek a new lifestyle that would make her healthier and happier.

Marie had attended a three-day program hosted by Weimar Institute at Cannon Beach, Oregon, several years ago. They provided meals, exercise and instruction, and inspired Marie to pursue a healthier lifestyle. But the meetings came and went. Without support, Marie found it difficult to maintain her new habits.

A year ago Marie saw an advertisement for the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP) at Tillamook County General Hospital (TCGH), an Adventist Health hospital in the coastal Oregon community. Similar in format to the Weimar program, CHIP offers a longer course with an emphasis on maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the program ends with follow-up support meetings.

CHIP is a worldwide lifestyle education program sponsored by Seventh-day Adventist churches throughout North America. Churches, along with other local sponsors like TCGH, conduct this unique video-based program in their communities. During the program, participants learn strategies to help make lifestyle changes that can continue.

“We’re fortunate to have a connection between the Tillamook Adventist Church and the hospital so we can offer this program,” said Ginny Gabel, hospital CHIP coordinator and community education and public relations manager.

Two years ago, a physician from the TCGH medical staff attended a leadership conference and learned about CHIP. He became instrumental in bringing CHIP to Tillamook.

“It takes a team,” said Ginny. “I work with many volunteers including TCGH’s two registered dietitians and several doctors.”

When Marie decided to come for the CHIP meetings, she worried about attending the evening meetings because of her trouble with driving at night. When Ginny heard, she set up a carpool. Marie’s enthusiasm heightened when she discovered that not only were food demonstrations planned, but participants would receive free samples and recipes every evening.

“During the first CHIP sessions that Marie attended, we only served recipe samples,” recalled Ginny. “But during the second program we decided to offer a light supper and show people how to prepare healthy meals.”

Though Marie did not stick with the program 100 percent of the time, she still saw huge improvements in her health. The heart trouble, sleep apnea, diabetes and arthritis became far less severe as she took better care of herself.

CHIP’s effects impressed Marie so much that when the second set of meetings came around, she not only attended again but brought five people with her!

For Marie, the best part of the program also proved the most challenging. She loved the education and examples. “But,” Marie admitted, “after eating one way for 70 years, it isn’t very easy to change.”

For those considering CHIP courses, Marie says it is the best thing to do for a healthy life.

“Not only was the program educational, but it was so well-administered that it was fun and a joy to attend,” said Marie. “You can beat the killer diseases by the way you choose to live. It will be the best long-term investment you’ll ever make.” For more information about the CHIP program or other health care programs at Tillamook County General Hospital, visit www.tcgh.com.